Basil pesto

August 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Mmm, nothing says ‘summer’ more than piles of fresh basil.  This is so easy to make and tastes so. much. better. than anything that comes in a jar.  Does not compare.  Also – shocker – this version I made last night does not have cheese in it.  I know I know.  Normally my pesto has equal parts nuts and parmesan, but as I went to make this last night I realized with a *gasp* that I was out of parmesan.  How did that happen?  Rather than trek to the grocery store I decided to make it anyway and see what happened – and I must say I think I prefer this cheese-free version!  Look ma, it’s VEGAN! 

Basil pesto without cheese


  • 2 c. fresh basil, washed and dried
  • 1 c nuts.  Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts, but they’re so expensive I usually use a blend.  This time I used a blend of half pine nuts, half almonds.  Walnuts also work well.
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped (or pressed)
  • Olive oil – I never measure this, I just use enough til it’s a consistency I like.  I would estimate I used 1/3  cup for this batch (I like my pesto thick; if you like it more runny, add more oil).
  • couple grinds of black pepper


  • Chuck everything in the food processor, blitz, the end!

(Normally I put the basil, nuts, and garlic in together first and process about 15 seconds.   Then I add the olive oil and pepper and process again until as smooth as I want it, adding more oil if necessary.)

(If you want to make a version with cheese, add in 3/4 cup grated parmesan and 1/4 cup grated romano, and double the amount of olive oil.)


Mom’s famous apple pie

August 6, 2011 § 2 Comments

This is my mom’s famous apple pie.  It’s the best I’ve ever had.  The secret?  I suppose it makes sense, but it’s the apples.  You can’t just pick any apple for an apple pie – the sugar:apple ratio is critical for a pie to taste good, and the one my mom has worked out below has NEVER ever failed.  Ladies take note: this pie could make a boy fall for you.  I’m just saying.  Also: I forgot to take a picture of the finished pie.  Please trust me that it was yummy!


Anyway: the apples.  Please do not ruin this pie by choosing a silly apple like a granny smith or a golden delicious (which are awful for very different reasons).  This recipe is designed to be used with Haralson apples.  If you don’t have them (as I didn’t when I made it today), do yourself a solid and only use an apple that you would want to eat – a crisp, slightly tart one (no mushy sweet apples like a Golden Delicious!).  Apples that I have used with success:  Pink Lady, Honey Crisp (also known as the most expensive apple pie of all time), and in a pinch Fuji (but they’re a bit too sweet for me).  Haralson, Pink Lady or Honey Crisp.  Please don’t deviate.

Also critically important: how you slice your apples.  Do not chunk them up!  Slice them.  Thin.  Like 1/8 inch thick?  (Not surprisingly, this is one of my favorite parts of making apple pie.  That and seeing if I can get the peel off in one go.)  The thin apples bake nicely and the texture is much, much nicer than chunks of apple (my mom thinks this is also why this pie is so popular).

Okay.  On to the recipe.


  • Pie crust [Yes, I buy mine.  So do lots of people who then lie to your face when you ask them if they made it.  Why fuss about when Pillsbury makes really good crusts (in the refrigerator case!).]
  • 6+ cups of apples, peeled and sliced  thin.  By 6+, I mean, get six cups, and then if you still have half an apple in front of you, toss that in too.
  • 2-3T flour (to toss with apples)
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • ½ t. cinnamon
  • Couple of tablespoons of butter, cut into small pieces.


1.  Turn oven to 400 F.

2.  Toss the peeled/sliced apples with the flour, sugar, cinnamon.

3. Line your pie pan with one of the pie crusts.

4. Dump the apple mix in and dot the top with butter.  You may think to yourself, “Self, that looks like too many apples!  How ill it all fit?”  This is why you sliced the apples thin.  With a little rearranging you can pack them really tight.  Which is why this pie is so delicious – it has LOTS of apples.


5. Put the other pie crust on top (after cutting decorative shapes for steam to vent).  Tuck the top layer under the bottom layer (so no filling can escape) and crimp the edges.

6. Bake for 50 minutes.  Very important note from my mom:  “be sure to cover the edge/perimeter of the crust with a ring of tinfoil after 15 minutes, or you will end up with burned edges.”

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