Tag Archives: fresh herbs

How to Grow and Blend Your Own Herbs at Home

Guest blogging today is Ale Aguilera. She’s inspired me to try more herb gardening.

Growing your own herbs indoors and blending your own spices with them is a rewarding hobby with a lot of tangible rewards. Store-bought herbs, spices, and blends can get expensive, especially if they’re organic —  and if they’re not, they may contain pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Having your own fresh herb garden right in… Read more »

— Read on porch.com/advice/how-to-grow-and-blend-herbs

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Filed under Healthful Eating


I’ll admit I’m not much of a microwaver. With the exception of asparagus and corn on the cob, most of my dishes cook rangetop or in a conventional oven. When I purchased the Deep Covered Baker (The Pampered Chef), I read the product guide that included directions for “30-Minute Chicken” in the microwave oven. I had my doubts.


The Pampered Chef® Deep Covered Baker

If you’re on the fence about buying this product or roasting in a microwave oven, keep reading.




  • 1 whole chicken (approx. 3 lbs.)
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Seasonings (your choice fresh chopped herbs + 1 tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper)
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 baking potato cut into 1″ slices


  1. Spray nonstick cooking spray generously to cover the interior of the Deep Covered Baker.
  2. Pat dry the chicken using paper towels. Rub with the olive oil.
  3. Rub the herbs (I use fresh taragon, thyme, and parsley) over the chicken.(reserve part of the herb mix for vegetables)
  4. Position chicken breast side up in baker. Add carrots, onion, and potato. Add salt and pepper over chicken and vegetables.
  5. Microwave uncovered on High 30 minutes. Check using a digital thermometer (should be 165° in thickest part of breast). If necessary, microwave an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from microwave oven and cover for ten minutes. Residual cooking should bring the chicken to 170°.
  7. Remove skin from chicken. Transfer chicken, carrots, and potatoes to a platter to serve.

Yield: 4-5 servings chicken, 2 servings vegetables
Refrigerate leftover chicken.


So there you have it. You really can roast a chicken in the microwave oven, a great convenience if pressed for time. You won’t have a browned skin, but that isn’t an issue for me. I skin chicken before serving because skin contains too much saturated fat.

I am glad I experimented with roasting in the microwave oven. However, if I have the time, I still think it’s easier to slow cook chicken. The microwave method may save time, but it’s tricky, especially if your microwave oven varies on size and wattage.


Filed under chicken, cooking, Healthful Eating, Roasted Vegetables

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