Monthly Archives: July 2008

Versatile Pesto

Now that I’m focused on MUFAs, I am experimenting more with one of my favorites, pesto. Here is my recipe for making the basic sauce, in case you don’t have one. Use a food processor or blender if you don’t have the Vita-Mix, and allow more time for the mixture to blend.


Vita-Mix Pesto
Yields 1 cup sauce

2 cups fresh basil leaves (no stems)
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup pine nuts (Or Walnuts will work)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (Must be EVOO)
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Italian blend seasoning (or dried oregano)
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan and Romano cheese
(optional: dash of salt)

Place these ingredients in the order listed into the Vita-Mix container. Secure lid. On Variable speed #5-6, process until thoroughly combined (may have to use tamper to push ingredients into the blades). Usually the process takes 20 seconds. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to ten days (but mine seldom lasts that long!)

Pesto sauce is high calorie, so use it sparingly. Thin it with the cooking water from pasta to make a delicious pasta sauce or thin a tablespoon with about 1 or 2 tablespoons water to dress your salad. You can cook with pesto sauce, too. Spread a little over a boneless, skinless chicken breast. (Cook gently, though. The garlic turns bitter at higher temperatures, so cook low and slow or add after removing food from heat) For a snack, dip fresh vegetables in some of the pesto sauce, or spoon some inside a celery stick.

A little goes a long way. Pesto is rich in taste and in calories. It’s also rich in MUFAs, thanks to the nuts and olive oil, so enjoy a little each day.


If you struggle with growing your own herbs or live where it’s difficult to have an herb garden, check out the AeroGarden. You can grow herbs, tomatoes, or salad greens (or even flowers) the NASA way, using hydroponic technology. I recently added an AeroGarden to my kitchen, where it sits on my table as a centerpiece. In making my pesto sauce, I had all the fresh herbs I needed at hand. I’ll be the first to admit it’s an extravagance; I could buy lots of herbs at the supermarket for what an AeroGarden costs! On second thought, considering the price of fuel and the fact that I live 12 miles one way from the closest grocery store …

AeroGarden after three weeks

AeroGarden after three weeks


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Filed under Basil, cooking, Healthful Eating, Pesto, Recipes

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“Chef” Cheri

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Cooking Ahead


Cooking ahead is one of the mainstays of Hasty Tasty Meals. This weekend, I caught a buy-one-get-one-free sale at my local supermarket on London broil-cut roasts and boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I stuck both roasts in my gourmet slo-cooker and let them roast while I “fried” the chicken breasts in my electric skillet (It took two batches for the quantity of chicken breasts) for 25 minutes. In addition, I cooked up a bag of brown rice, which can be reheated and used in a number of meals .

I sliced half of the roast and froze in meal-size portions using my Food Saver (those are handy, but you can also use Ziploc® Freezer bags). I also packaged and froze meal-portions of the chicken breasts. Then I shredded some of the beef for burritos, cubed some for a beef pot pie, and ate sliced roast for dinner warmed with my broth-cornstarch fat-free gravy.

Some of the chicken will be used for chicken salad, some shredded for burritos (we love burritos), and some will be warmed in gravy and served for dinner as with the beef. I’m finished cooking for the week, I’m serving us healthful meals, and I’ve saved money!


A Vita-Mix is expensive, but I can’t imagine giving mine up. Here’s a yummy way to have a serving of dairy and a serving of fruit:

To the Vita-mix, add:

1 cup skim milk
2 oranges, peeled
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

¼ cup Splenda® granular
¼ cup powdered milk
2 cups ice cubes

Blend on high for one minute until smooth and frothy. Makes two 16-oz shakes. It rivals the fast food orange cream shakes in taste, and is a lot more healthful.


With summer coming up, we’re faced with the cookout season. Don’t let get-togethers derail your healthful eating. If there’s an opportunity to contribute to the meal, offer to bring a dish or two. Then you’ll control the ingredients! Are you a sucker for the ever-popular green bean casserole? (I’m not, and only God knows why that dish’s popularity endures, 😕 but that’s just my opinion) If so, here’s my lightened version.


Serves 8


½ small onion, thinly sliced

1 Tablespoon butter

2 regular size cans of reduced sodium green beans, drained

1 can Campbell’s Healthy Recipe Cream of Mushroom Condensed Soup

½ cup skim milk (add more if needed)

1 8-oz can mushrooms stems and pieces, drained

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

½ cup crushed corn flakes


Melt the butter in a medium skillet then add onion slices. Cook until onions caramelize. (This is when the sugars in the onions turn them a nice brown color) Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large measuring pitcher, combine the soup and milk then blend. Stir in the mushrooms.

In a three-quart baking dish, combine the soup mixture with the green beans. Spread the cooked onion slices on top, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and crushed corn flakes.

Bake, uncovered, for thirty minutes. It’s not the French-fried-onion-rings-on-top version, but it’ll still have crunch and taste good, too. Eliminating the onion rings saves a ton of empty calories, but keep that to yourself.

Happy Summer! 🙂

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Filed under cooking, Green Beans, Healthful Eating, Recipes, Smoothies