Friday, September 10, 2010

Adventures in Cooking

This week Rob has been very busy in the evening finishing up a side job for friends of ours at CarStar. He has made and installed several counter tops for them at their Hudsonville and Holland stores over the past two weeks. He has gotten a lot of practice in the land of counter tops these days and they all turned out really nice. With the busy schedule he has kept, between working all day and pretty much all night, Ava and I have been solo at dinner time. With our head cook out of the kitchen Thursday evening, Ava and I, could have just lived on mac-n-cheese and PB&J's but I decided to step outside of the box and make something I have never made before, pesto. I am really very pleased with myself for stepping up to the plate and making time for "adventures in cooking" despite our busy lives. Trust me it is very ambitious to tackle a new recipe while caring for your toddler minus your wing-man! Nothing like tooting my own horn I know but I am really proud of myself so "TOOT-TOOT!" 

Why pesto? Well have you ever had a moment in your break room at work when an aroma coming out of the microwave has your taste buds watering? Out of sheer curiosity you wait to see who the delightful smell belongs to so you can see what it is? Just by plain sight you know the dish is one you have never tasted before so you start up a conversation with your co-worker to learn more about the tantalizing smell. During the conversation you realize the recipe is one of her family favorites and she wasn't planing on handing out any free bites? Sadly, you look down at your lunch with complete loss of interest wishing she had brought enough to share. You are left to wonder how something so green could smell so good. At some point she realizes you are eyeing her every bite and out of pity she finally offers you some. Hooked by one single bite you boldly demand your own copy of this recipe to make her family jewel. Well thanks to Jen Z. at Blodgett this is how my love affair with Presto Pesto began!

Most pesto dishes are born from food processors which is one kitchen appliance Home Sweet Kolkman does not own. So even though I have had the recipe for this green goo for a while I have never been adventurous enough to make it. Knowing now that the recipe was a success I would like to give thanks to the new wild cooking hair up my sleeve complements of Cafe' Kolkman! Thanks for inspiring me to step out side of the box and take a chance on my trusty ole' blender.

I knew it was going to be hard trying to have a cooking adventure and manage to take care of Ava solo right smack dab in the middle of her mealtime. But I rolled up my sleeves and managed to, as they say in the country, "Get-Er-Done!" I put Ava in her highchair with some yogurt and vanilla wafers to occupy her time and as a front stage seat to ma-ma's cooking at its finest. She happily sat quite for a long time enjoying this strawberry appetizer while I got my pesto ingredients in the blender. In fact, maybe a little too long because before I knew it I looked over at her and this is what I saw...

After a bit of time watching her lick the bowl clean I couldn't help but poke some fun at her on her not so delicate eating habits. "Ummmm, to delicious to use your spoon Gus?"

I think Ava was a little embarrassed when she realized I was watching her enjoy the very last licks. HA! I love the twinkle in her eyes when she knows she's been caught...

She was done and ready to play for a bit so I took a brief break to clean up miss yogurt face before hitting the puree button. Ava has a history of freaking out over any and all loud sounds. For example, she is deadly afraid of our vacuum despite my efforts to ease her fears. So with that history, I knew she wasn't going to like the sound of pureeing pesto. But what's a cook to do? I tried to get her occupied in the living room with some babies and books but without fail she just wanted to be under my feet in the kitchen. I showed her the blender and told her it was going to be very loud. I pushed the button and now she is terrified of the vacuum and the blender.

Gezzzzzz... My poor Tweeter-Pie was not happy...

After a few long minutes of pureeing my pesto and a lot of drama it was ready for a taste test.


It looks very gross but I promise it is very good!

I tried to show Ava the blender to calm some of her fears but as you can see she wasn't having it. I'm not sure what the answer is to help her over her fears. She wouldn't even look at it. I bought her a toy vacuum which hasn't helped her fear of the vacuum so I don't think I am going to jump on getting her a toy Cuisinart!

Here is my plated Presto Pesto over Penne Pasta with a side of garlic toast. All this dish needs in the future is a side of Ceaser Salad! 

Ava finally calmed down over the blender after I emptied the contents into a clean container, rinsed it, and put it in the dishwasher. Thankfully, out of sight out of mind, and she allowed me to enjoy my meal in peace. Half way through I happened to glance up to check on her whereabouts. I found her in the landing sitting in her carseat Rob left to be spot treated from vacation ice cream drips. What a lucky spot to ready books!

Ava enjoying a touch and feel book.

Here she realized I was taking pictures of her... I am so mad I cut her head off because her smile is so "Ava!"

"I see you momma... Look at me!"

So that's my cooking adventure for the week in a nutshell. Without further waiting I leave you with the recipe for Presto Pesto...


2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 oz fresh basil w/o stalks (1 1/2 cups)
2/3 cups olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan Cheese
fresh sea salt & ground pepper to taste

Simply throw all ingredients into the blender/food processor and puree. Place over cooked noodles.

This recipe makes quite a bit of pesto so you can freeze some if you wish to do so. It was suggested to me to freeze some in ice cube trays which I think is a great idea. Then you can use a little pesto here and there as need be because a little bit goes a long ways!

After dinner I decided to clean up a bit before getting Ava ready for bed. I love how she has to be just like mom sometimes and she followed suit and joined me cleaning. Maybe the more she helps me clean the less afraid of the vacuum she will be! Enjoy these funny photos of my Cleaning Little Lady!

A little sweeping...

Working the dust pan isn't as easy as it looks...


Ava & The Red Devil Vacuum... Notice it really works!

My goofball brushing her teeth with her cleaning brush...

All the Clean-Up... Clean-Up... lead to singing a song.

And ended with a game of Peek-A-Boo!

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