Creamy Vegan Sun Dried Tomato Pesto


My list of vegan recipes is slowly growing longer! This dish is based on a favorite of my husband’s from one of our trips to Sicily. Nuts of all kinds are used in Sicilian cooking, and the basil pesto that we are used to here is just one of the many variations that Sicilians make. If you can’t find pine nuts, or if they are too expensive (usually about $20 per pound) you can substitute walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, or even a couple of teaspoons of tahini. I used penne for this dish, but fusilli (corkscrew) would be more traditional, and would also hold more of that delicious sauce! If you prefer to use dairy, just swap out the vegan butter, cheese, and milk for the real thing.

  • 1/2 C. sun dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced, one for pesto, two for finished sauce
  • 2 C. fresh basil leaves, packed, reserve a couple of leaves for garnish
  • 1/4 C. pine nuts (or other nuts, see above)
  • 1/4 C. grated vegan parmesan (or a T. of nutritional yeast)
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 C. good quality olive oil
  • 1/4-1/2 t. salt (taste after adding 1/4 t.)
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 3 T. vegan butter such as Earth Balance
  • 1 C. unsweetened, unflavored nut milk, I like to use cashew milk for cooking since I think it’s the least sweet.
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • 1 lb. pasta, cooked according to the package directions. Reserve 1/4 C. of pasta water.
  • Basil, vegan parm, and pine nuts for garnish

Using a food processor, pulse together the tomatoes, basil, one clove of garlic, the pine nuts, the parmesan, the zest and juice of the lemon, the olive oil, and the salt and pepper. Pulse to create a semi-smooth paste.  If it’s too thick you can add a little drizzle more of oil.  Taste for saltiness and add a little more if needed.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the remaining two cloves of garlic. Cook the garlic for about one minute.  Mix the cornstarch with about 1/4 C. of the nut milk to make a smooth slurry. Pour the slurry into the butter and garlic and mix until smooth. Scrape the pesto into the skillet and stir to combine.  Whisk in the remaining nut milk until smooth.  Bring to a simmer.  Continue to stir as the mixture thickens.  Toss the sauce with the cooked and drained pasta.  Garnish with some chopped, fresh basil, and some of the nuts. Serve with more parmesan on the side.






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Apricot Jam Scones

Seems like a good day to make these!


Is there anything better on a rainy day than a tea party?  How about a tea party with a 5 year old, two stuffed animals, and the carpenter who’s working on your remodel?  Here are the scones we made today.  They are flaky and light, nothing like those dry, heavy ones you find at coffee shops.  Makes 16 mini scones- or 8 huge ones.

  • 1/2 C. hot water
  • 1 C. dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 2 C. flour
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks of cold butter, cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C. cream
  • 1/2 C. Apricot jam or preserves
  • Turbinado sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the hot water in small bowl with the dried apricots and allow them to soak in the water while you make the dough.  In a standing mixer, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Using…

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Chocolate Sables

I just totally love these. That is all.



For me this is the perfect cookie.  It’s crisp but not crunchy.  Deep chocolate in flavor, but not bitter.  Freezes well, and can be made and stored for at least a week.  Another name for these could be Grown-Up Valentine’s Day cookies.  Grown-up because they are just barely sweet with an intense cocoa flavor.  Sorry kids, these are too good for you.  Since my husband doesn’t care for chocolate, I’m not sure who I made these for….ahem.   Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

  • 1 C. flour
  • 1/3 C. Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 C. salted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 C. sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 3 1/2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.  Cream the butter, sugar, and salt until fluffy.  Add the…

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Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies with Melted Butter Icing

Now that George is almost 9 the Valentine card writing experience is not quite as harrowing.



Ten years ago Valentine’s Day was about roses, dinner out, maybe even a new pair of unmentionables. Today, Valentine’s day is about boxes of perforated Power Rangers cards with Tootsie Pops taped to them and forcing my 5 year old to write his own name 28 times like a Drill Sergeant. G-E-O-R-G-E! Again! G-E-O-R-G-E! Again! Just get it done! Oh, and it’s also about frosted sugar cookies. 

IMG_0458For the dough:

  • 4 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 3 C. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 t. orange or lemon extract
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon (about 1 T. finely grated zest)
  • 4 3/4 C. flour

For the frosting:

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • food coloring- I used Chefmaster food coloring gel in Christmas Red to get the violent pink color.
  • 2 1/2 C. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 t. vanilla
  • water as needed for thinning

Cream the butter and sugar until…

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English Toffee

This is one of my most popular posts for the holidays. English Toffee makes a great gift!


I believe homemade gifts are the best kind.  A homemade gift shows that you cared enough to spend your time on it and put a little of yourself into it.  The holidays are a great excuse for making something decadent like English Toffee.  What teacher, coworker, or mail carrier wouldn’t like a gift like this?  Real English toffee calls for dark chocolate, but I prefer milk.  Use whatever chocolate you like.

  • 2 sticks of butter, divided
  • 1 C. superfine sugar
  • 2 T. cold water
  • 1/2 C. chopped raw almonds
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 C. milk chocolate chips

Use one T. of butter to coat a rimmed baking sheet, set aside.  In a heavy bottomed saucepan, bring 14 T. of the butter, all of the sugar, and the water to a boil.  Boil for about ten minutes, stirring constantly.  Use a candy thermometer and boil the mixture until it reads 300…

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Show-stopping Holiday Mains

The holidays are a time for showcasing your best cooking and hospitality. If you’re hosting dinner this year, try one of my special occasion roasts or braises.  Be sure to plan ahead so that your meat counter or butcher has what you need.  The butcher in any grocery store- even Safeway or Fred Meyer, can have these cuts ready for you with a little notice, so don’t feel like you have to go to a fancy specialty butcher shop.  Although if you have time, I really recommend Sheridan Fruit Company’s butcher for the best meat selection in Portland and the most knowledgable staff.  There’s a recipe here for every budget and level of cooking experience.  Except for vegetarians. Then you should click here. 

Crown Roast of Pork

The ultimate holiday centerpiece




Italian-style pork roast, a crowdpleaser



Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

A decadent family favorite



Rotolo Di Manzo

Braised, stuffed beef roulade



Chicken Apricot Tagine

Casual and budget friendly and super delish



Holiday Turkey Roulade

Stuffed and rolled turkey breast, perfect for a smaller group



Classic Prime Rib

The mother of all holiday roasts



Roasted Turkey and Bread Salad

For the traditionalists



Braised Brisket 

Easy and inexpensive










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Oregon Oyster Stuffing

New Season’s has freshly shucked and jarred oysters in their seafood case.



Oyster stuffing, or dressing, originated in New England, some say all the way back to the Colonial period when oysters were extremely plentiful and therefore eaten by rich and poor alike.  They made their way to tables in the Midwest during the 1850’s when refrigerated train cars were first used. Since they had to be transported at great expense, they became more of a delicacy and were reserved for special occasions. In the 1900’s NE oysters went out of fashion due to high levels of pollution in the Atlantic.

Living in the Pacific Northwest has the huge perk of being close to some of the best oyster beds in the world, like Netarts and Yaquina Bay. You don’t need to shuck oysters for this dish.  Buy a jar of freshly shucked oysters at your local fish market, and be sure to reserve the “liquor” from the jar.

The oysters lend…

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