Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne


The few times I enjoy pasta I love to use pesto. From ordinary pesto to out of the box recipes, there are variations for all foodies. Roasted red pepper and basil pesto can compliment a volume of dishes. Pasta can be so bland, but elevate it with pesto; chicken can be boring, but change normal with pesto. I enjoy the added note of half and half to create a creamy texture. It softens the dish and creates a tasty dinner for friends and family.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Toasting your pine nuts accentuates their nutty flavor.roastedredpepperpestopenne2
  2. I used a fresh bell pepper. Char the pepper stovetop or broil it to produce a roasted, fresh flavor.
  3. Using fresh basil is the only way to make a pesto.
  4. Olive oil creates that creaminess ideal in pesto and facilitates cohesion among the ingredients.
  5. I used half and half, but you can use heavy cream or evaporated milk in exchange. The point is to add a creamy thickness to your sauce.
  6. I oven roasted a few chicken breasts in place of the rotisserie chicken. It is healthier because there is less butter, and you are using only white meat.
  7. Adding fresh basil on top of the finished dish enhances the brightness of the pesto.
  8. I topped the dish with sun-dried tomatoes; however, roasted or halved cherry tomatoes compliment the dish as well.
  9. I used a hand food processor leaving my pesto chunkier than normal.

I’m a huge fan of red bell peppers; I’m a huge fan of pesto; I’m a huge fan of splurging on pasta. This recipe delivers on all notes of flavor. With a few easy steps and ingredients, you can stretch your wallet without stretching your waistband. Enjoy a splurging pasta dish with the notes above and learn to love eating healthy.

Leave a comment with your favorite pesto recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.


Almond Butter


Everyone has always strayed from fats because society has brainwashed us into thinking they are big, bad and scary.  The truth of the matter is that a balanced diet includes fat; one just needs to balance the amount they eat daily.  Nuts are a great source of protein and fat.  When I want to splurge, I choose to eat a peanut butter, or in this case nut butter, sandwich.

I’ve been dying to make my own nut butters previously, but I had this terrifying thought that it was too hard.  Boy was I completely wrong.  All you need is a food processor and the nuts of your choice.  While most nut butters are made from peanuts and almonds, you can make them with any type of nut.  The essential part of making the nut butters is grinding the nuts until they release their oils creating the creamy texture.  Take note that nut butters tend to have a grimy texture unlike processed peanut butters and may need to be mixed before eating it to reincorporate the oils.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I made half the amount of butter than the recipe; however, making more takes less time, funnily enough, because there is a higher volume of food being processed.  Ergo, you won’t have to stop 20 extra times to scrape the sides.almondbutter
  2. You can make as much or as little nut butter as you choose.  Be sure to keep it in an airtight container.
  3. Add any type of flavors to the nut butter: honey, white chocolate, dark chocolate, salt or chia.
  4. I suggest adding a pinch of salt to the butter or buying salted nuts from a whole grocers, like Sprouts.  Salt enhances flavors when cooking.
  5. Roast the nuts before processing them in a 350-degree oven for no more than ten minutes.
  6. Roasting the nuts brings out a nutty aroma, making your kitchen
    smell delicious.

Ta-Da! You’ve made your own, healthier and personalized, nut butter: simple and easy without those pesky preservatives.  Make as little or as much of the nut butter as you’d like for less than grocery store prices.  Individualize the butters with your favorite flavors to build new creations.

Leave a comment with your favorite nutty flavors.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Whole Wheat Rolls


Finding fresh, healthy rolls at the grocery store can be a challenge.  Now, you can make your own whole wheat rolls for a healthier side.  These rolls are moist, appropriate in size and healthier than the average white breads.  They can be a bit of a challenge because of their stickiness, but they prove to be delicious.  The rolls pair perfectly with homemade almond butter or my pumpkin pecan butter.

Whole wheat–in its original non-enriched form–is a very good source of dietary fiber and manganese, including enzymes involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion.  Refined grain products made from white flour have been stripped of essential nutrients needed for good health.  Whole grain products have more fiber than their white counterparts. Most Americans need 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day for good health. Whole grains can supply some of the needed fiber in your diet. Fiber is digested slower, moves food through the digestive system and provides bulk which helps you feel fuller longer.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. These buns are extremely sticky since they are to be “soft” rolls.wholewheatrolls2
  2. I was able to make 19 rolls.
  3. Using a spoon instead of a whisk keeps the ingredients mixing rather than stuck inside the whisk.
  4. Make sure the milk is warm to keep the ingredients from separating and activates the yeast.
  5. The dough needs to rise twice allowing for the yeast to be active and create a
    fluffy center.
  6. Be sure not to over knead the dough or the bread will not rise.
  7. The first rest did little to my dough, but the second rest doubled my rolls in size.
  8. Cake flour creates a holier, lighter bread mix.
  9. I cooked my rolls in a muffin tin because the dough was extremely sticky.  Making balls/rolls will still work it will just be a sticky mess.
  10. Adding egg wash to the tops of the rolls give them a nice golden brown color and creates a crunchy top.
  11. You can add wheat germ or a type of nut for crunch and texture on top.
  12. Since you are cooking the rolls in the muffin tin, adjust the timing to keep them from burning.  My rolls were a little browner on the sides than I would have liked.
  13. I suggest making the rolls the night before a dinner or early that morning to allow time for cooking and the dough to rise without rushing around like a crazy person.

The rolls may seem like a hassle, but they are completely manageable.  You can build satisfaction knowing that you conquered making rolls healthy.  They contain nutrient-rich whole wheat flour and less preservatives than store bought rolls.  Add these delicious rolls to a soup or family dinner for that extra UMPH.

Leave a comment with your favorite types of rolls.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.