Food From My Kitchen

Basil Pesto

During the winter months I appreciate my homemade Basil Pesto.    Each Spring, I plant eight to ten Genovese Basil plants.  (also known as sweet basil)   This is an annual plant and grows quickly in Northeast Ohio.  I usually get two crops if I leave 2-4 leaves of growth at the plant base when harvesting the first time.    Depending on the weather, I usually harvest late July and late September.  

There are many varieties of Basil:  Purple, Greek, Cinnamon, Lemon,  Thai.   But for my taste, Sweet Basil works best for pesto making and adding fresh to salads, and homemade pizza with mozzarella and ripe tomatoes.    Basil is a member of the renowned mint family, which, when used in cooking, stimulates digestion and is a beneficial antioxidant.  



  • 3 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves 
  • 1 1/2 cups Chopped Walnuts
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, peeled
  • 1 Cup Olive Oil 
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional) 
  • Can salt and pepper to taste.    
  • Directions:    Use a Food Processor and place the ingredients in order of:  garlic cloves, walnuts.   Process 10 seconds.   Add 1/2 cup Olive Oil, process 10 seconds.   Add rest of Olive Oil and Parmesan Cheese.   Process 15-20 seconds.    Check the texture of pesto, it should be a moist paste.   Add Olive Oil if needed.    
  • Store in small 4 oz mason jars or freeze in ice cube tray.    The jar pesto is good for a few days; that's why I usually freeze the pesto so the portions are similar (about 2 Tbsps.) and last for months in the freezer.     Wrap the ice cube tray in plastic wrap.   

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A Cooked Yellow Squash Dish

At the close of my garden this season, I found a lovely large golden yellow squash.   What a perfect color and texture.   I created a dish from it for our supper the other night.   It was quite good and easy, combining several fall harvest vegetables.   

Cooked Yellow Squash 

  • 1 small to medium yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup sliced green cabbage
  • 1 cup chopped in cubes yellow squash
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh tarragon
  • salt and peper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of water or white wine 
  • Directions:   sautéed first the onion and celery in the olive oil.  Cook for a few minutes, add 1/2 tarragon, salt and pepper.  Add sliced cabbage, yellow squash, cook for a few minutes, add rest of tarragon.  Stir for a few minutes until cabbage starts to get soft.  Add water or white wine.   Stir and cover for about 4-5 minutes.    Serve hot as a side dish.   


Lentil Soup

For some reason, I like Lentil Soup best when the weather gets cold.  It is now cold in Northeast Ohio, so I got out my bag of dried Lentils and made some soup.   I changed the recipe a bit and added extra vegetables I had in my refrigerator .   I added white potato, celery and carrots.   I need another 2 cups of vegetable stock, but it sure did taste good.  The recipe called for chicken stock, but I usually use vegetable stock when the dish will be vegetarian.   


Lentil Soup

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. pureed garlic    (when I don't have any, I used 2 tsp. garlic powder)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups lentils, wahed and drained
  • 5 cups chicken stock, canned broth or water
  • Plain yogurt, for garnish 
  • Optional:   about 3/4 cups each potato, celery and/or carrots

Directions:  Melt butter over medium-high heat in a large stockpot or dutch oven.  Salute onions with salt until deep brown, about 10 minutes, reduce heat to low and add garlic, ginger, and pepper.  Cook until aromas are released, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.   Add lentils and cook an additional 3 minutes.  (I added the vegetables when the lentils were added.)  Constantly stirring so the beans are evenly cooked.   (Sometimes I need to add 1 cup of stock or water to help the cooking process.)  

Add chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce for a simmer, and cook, uncovered about 1 hour, 15 minutes.   Stir soup regularly to ensure even cooking so the beans do not burn.  When done, beans should be soft inside, with no chalkiness.   Serve immediately, garnished with a dollop of yogurt.  

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Donna J. Payerle    DJ Cards and More 

Citrus Salad

For our family's gathering on Christmas Day, I made a citrus salad.    It was so good that I wanted to share it so others can made it too some time.  



  • 2 Pink or Red Grapefruits
  • 5 Navel Oranges
  • 5 Kiwi fruits
  • 1/2 Fresh Pineapple
  • 1/2 Cup of Honey 

Notes:  Chop all ingredients about the same size.   This makes it easy to scoop up and serve.

Throughly mix all ingredients and serve.   Stays fresh for 3-4 days.  

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Donna J. Payerle   DJ Cards and More