Tomato Almond Pesto



We often grill sirloin steaks for dinner. When I don’t have the ingredients to make  Mom’s Mystery Marinade we use on our flank steaks, I’ve started making a new favorite  pesto variation as our replacement topping.

I always have plenty of containers of slivered almonds in my pantry(for Mom’s Mango Chutney Chicken Salad and her awesome Venezuelan Cole Slaw) so I decided to add them to the original basil pesto recipe, in addition to some plum tomatoes.

tomatoes for pesto

Tomatoes sliced and ready

The tomatoes and almonds add a subtle fruity flavor and slight crunch to the pesto base.  And, the best part is that the sauce  sauce freezes WELL so we’ve got at least another 3-4 servings in our future.

While my son still says he prefers the plain pesto, surprisingly, my finicky husband LOVED the sauce.  I’ll take that!

Zucchini Parmesan


It’s nearing the end of summer and it’s hard to believe that many kids have already gone back to school.

In addition to the requisite back-to-school photos in my feed, there have been an equal number of over-sized homegrown garden zucchini shots too.

From experience, it’s hard not to boast a handsome crop.  In fact, a few years ago, our garden yielded a 22″ zucchini that was so big, my son needed to hold it with two hands….

zucchini2summer 2013

maddyzukesummer 2013

alexzucchinisummer 2015

What was more thrilling was that, from just one massive zucchini, we were able to make three different dishes.

In addition to the Chocolate Zucchini Cake that we love, we also make our version of Zucchini Parmesan.

In my family Chicken Parm is our celebrated dish but Veal Parm and Eggplant Parm come in close seconds.

Zucchini Parmesan is exactly what it sounds like:  substitute the main ingredient in your regular Parmesan dishes with zucchini.

It’s that simple.

We started out by cutting substantial disk-shaped pieces from the zucchini.  You need to make sure your zucchini pieces are as thick as a piece of meat or eggplant.

Then your following steps are easy and a very fun activity for kids (if you don’t mind some mess):  cover pan with zucchini disks, coat zucchini with tomato sauce, spread some pesto, layer over top with mozzarella cheese, sprinkle Parmesan and repeat until you’ve reached the top of your pan.

zucchini parm

After just a short time in the oven, we were ready to eat.

I must say, I was a little skeptical of how this dish would taste but soon remembered anything slathered in tomato sauce and lots of cheese is always a crowd pleaser.

This dish was amazing– cheesy, tangy –and the zucchinis were meaty enough that we were truly full after one portion (something you’d might not expect from a veggie-based dish).

In fact, this dish was so good, my son requested it to be reheated the next day for lunch!

No Bake Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


We’re trying to hold onto summer as long as possible.

Luckily the weather on the east coast has been picture perfect, 85 degree days with no humidity.  And, my kids don’t even start school until after Labor Day which is a week later than usual so I do feel as though we still have some time on our side.

I’ve become accustomed to leaving the oven in the OFF position as long as possible.   That means NO BAKE are the operative words when I’m looking for a summer dessert option.

Up until last year,  Rhubarb had always been that elusive plant I’ve seen at various farmers’ markets.  I used to mistake it for Aloe. I just couldn’t figure it out.  Is it a plant?  Is it a medicine?  It was quite intimidating to me so I just ignored it.

It’s amazing what I learned from the internet in a matter of seconds:

1) Rhubarb is a vegetable but it’s often treated as a fruit.

2) Rhubarb’s leaves are poisonous.

3) The rhubarb stalk contains a lot of water. Most people boil it but, steaming provides the same results and it won’t lose color, flavor or nutrients.

4) Rhubarb is extremely low in calories.

5) Rhubarb is a good source of calcium, Vitamin C and fiber —  it’s rarely eaten raw.

6)  Be careful, too much Rhubarb has a laxative effect.

That’s all the confidence I needed to march back to my local supermarket and purchase some rhubarb stalks—wielding it around the store as if they were a light sabers with magical powers- we couldn’t wait to start the pie.

Rhubarb at the market– no longer intimidating

And, if you haven’t picked up from the No Bake Chocolate Pie, No Bake Peanut Butter Pie, No Bake Cherry Cheesecake Pie recipes:


Seriously, my kids (and 15-year old nephew) made this pie (without adult supervision) in 15 minutes.


Besides cutting up the rhubarb and hulling the strawberries, the only other skill that’s required is stirring a pot over the stove.

Rhubarb pieces chopped and waiting to be boiled

And, they wasted  no time making ahomemade crust consisting of butter and smashed Graham Cracker however, you can simply purchase a ready-made vanilla wafer crust or graham cracker crust at your local market.

After about 2 ½ hours in the fridge, the filling had gelled, we squirted on some whipped cream and shaved some chocolate.

Gelled strawberry/rhubarb filling ready for whipped topping

As expected, two thumbs up all around!

The pie is super sweet (you can offset the sugar by using stevia or another sugar substitute if you’d like).

If you’re looking for sweet without the heat, this No Bake Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie is a winner!  It’s too easy to pass up.


Zucchini Bread

Homemade Healthy Zucchini Bread

When your garden yields colossal zucchinis, your hands are forced and you must come up with some recipes to put your crop to good use.

Admittedly, with zucchini this large, I was worried that the size would sacrifice the flavor.


A few summers ago, we picked a 22″ zucchini and when we tried to use it in a few recipes, it had little to no taste and was full of water.

So, this time around, we were a bit skeptical about our super-sized veggies.

We decided to bake our favorite Zucchini Bread recipe from our cookbook bible: The Silver Palate by Sheila Lukins.  In fact, it’s so simple to make that my 13-year old daughter baked it by herself.

From the shredding of the zucchini to the mixing of the batter, within 2 hours we had a gorgeous homemade Zucchini Bread.


zucchini bread final

Try it for yourself.


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