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Entries in blissful eats (142)


blissful eats with tina jeffers: Pasta with sweet corn pesto

Corn season is in full swing and I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy it.  This is a simple variation on classic pesto but instead of olive oil and pine nuts I used corn and cashews.  The cashews lend a lovely richness without masking the flavor of the sweet corn.  I have been finding all kinds of ways to enjoy this sauce.  I made a pizza using the pesto as a base and topped it with bacon, corn and cherry tomatoes and it is amazing with grilled fish.  The corn I’ve been getting from the farmers market has been so sweet and fresh that I didn’t need to cook it before adding it to the pesto.  If your corn is a little starchy cook it for a few minutes in a pot of boiling water before adding it to the pesto.  Visit me during the rest of the week at www.scalingbackblog.com for more recipe inspiration.

Pasta with sweet corn pesto




1 cup raw cashews

3 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 4 large ears)

1 garlic clove minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti or fettuccine

½ cup freshly torn basil leaves for garnish


If needed bring a large pan of water to a boil over high heat and cook the corn for 3-4 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Soak the cashews in enough water to cover for at least one hour or up to overnight.  Drain the cashews and add the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender.  Add 2 cups of the corn, garlic, salt, pepper, basil and olive oil to the cashews.  Process on high for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy adding a little water to thin as necessary. 

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally.  Drain the pasta and return to the pot.  Add the pesto, reserved cup of corn kernels and heat through over medium heat until warmed through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve the pasta with a sprinkle of basil leaves.


blissful eats with tina jeffers: Cauliflower salad with quick pickled cherries  

Cauliflower is the poor stepchild of the vegetable world.  I love to eat it roasted with just a touch of olive oil until it is golden brown and crispy but had never really been into eating it raw.  I think it was from years of seeing those huge florets sitting in a heap on the vegetable tray, always the last to get consumed after all the carrots and broccoli were gone.  This salad is a revelation; cauliflower gets pulsed in the food processor until it resembles fine grains of rice and tossed with fennel almonds, parsley and some quick pickled cherries.  The longer the cherries sit the more pronounced the flavor, they make a great addition to a cheese plate or spooned over vanilla ice cream or oatmeal in the morning.  I’ve eaten the salad with fresh sliced cherries and it is still delicious but pickling the cherries and the addition of the spices makes this a salad that will stay in your memory for more than just a meal.  Visit me during the rest of the week at www.scalingbackblog.com for more recipe inspiration.   

Cauliflower salad with quick pickled cherries           


For the salad:

1 medium head cauliflower

1 fennel bulb

1 cup Italian parsley

½ cup roasted almonds

1 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

For the pickled cherries:

 Makes 2-3 half pint jars

½ cup sugar

½ cup white balsamic vinegar

1 cup water

½ pound cherries, stems and pits removed

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon whole cardamom pods

2 whole star anise

1 pound cherries, stems removed and pitted 


For the salad: 

Break the cauliflower into florets and place in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse the cauliflower until it is broken into small rice sized pieces. Alternatively you can chop the cauliflower finely with a sharp knife. 

Shave the fennel with a mandolin or as thinly as possible, reserving some of the fennel fronds for garnish.   Place the fennel and cauliflower in a medium bowl along with the almonds, parsley and fennel fronds.

Prepare the dressing by combining the vinegar, lemon juice and honey and stir until the honey is dissolved.  Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.  Plate the mixture  and top with a ¼ cup of pickled cherries.

For the pickled cherries:

Combine vinegar, sugar water and spices in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes uncovered. 

Pack cherries into jars and pour the brine over the top to cover.  Let cool to room temperature before using; cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. 


blissful eats with tina jeffers: Sweet peach and corn pizza

This is the time of the year when sweet corn and peaches are dominating the farmers market.  I thought I would try to combine my two summer favorites in a pizza and I wasn’t disappointed.  I have a sungold cherry tomato plant that is going crazy so I added them as well.  Combined with fresh creamy burrata this is a pizza that my family couldn’t get enough of.  I will admit to adding a few slices of crumbled bacon to the boy’s pizza but I’ll do whatever I have to in order to get them to eat some vegetables. This pizza captures the essence of summer and I know that we will be adding this to our dinner rotation for as long as I can. 

Sweet peach and corn pizza 


Makes 4-6 small pizzas




For the dough:


4 1/2 cups unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour, chilled

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1/4 cup olive oil

1 3/4 cups water, ice cold

Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting


For the toppings:


16 ounces fresh burrata or mozzarella

2 cups of fresh corn

2 peaches cut into slices

2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

½ cup fresh basil



In a standard mixer stir the flour, salt and instant yeast.  Attach the dough hook, add the water and olive oil and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes.  The dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl but be clear of the sides.  Sprinkle flour on a work surface and transfer the dough to the counter.  Lightly shape the dough into a ball, coat the ball with olive oil place back into mixing bowl cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 3 days. 


When you are ready to bake the pizzas pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees.  Divide the dough into 4 or 6 pieces.  Working with one portion at a time, gather the four corners together and mold gently into a ball.  Dust the balls lightly with flour and let rest for 1 hour.  You can freeze any extra dough for up to 3 months.


Lightly flour a counter and shape the dough into a circle trying to get it as thin as possible without tearing.  Lightly drizzle the dough with a teaspoon of olive oil and tear the burrata into rough pieces and spread it around the dough.  Top the pizza with the corn, peaches and tomatoes, and sprinkle the parmesan over the top.  Bake until the crust is crispy and the cheese is melted 8 to 12 minutes.  Sprinkle with the basil and let stand for a few minutes before serving.  


blissful eats with tina jeffers: Roasted green beans and squash with hazelnut pesto

We are in the thick of summer and boredom is starting to set in.  I know that people talk about the dangers of overscheduling for kids but I don’t think I could ever have my son in too many activities.  He would be happy to have a camp and sports activities planned everyday of the week and still complain about needing something to do. 

In my attempt to keep him busy I tried to get him to help me out in the garden the other day planting some herbs and watering but he lost interest in about 2.3 seconds.  It seems that he is only bored until there is work to be done. 

Our vegetable garden is starting to really take off and I haven’t done the best job keeping up with it since in addition to working I am driving my boy all over town from one camp to another.  I love spending time in the garden but it’s gone a little wild this season and I have just kind of thrown things in here and there when I get the chance.

I do have a nice supply of green beans and zucchini and I wanted to try something a little bit different with them so I roasted them over high heat and served them with a lemony hazelnut basil pesto.  It’s a great side dish or would be great served over some pasta for a main course.  If you have an overabundance of veggies coming from your garden it’s a great way to use up some of the bounty.     

Roasted green beans and squash with hazelnut pesto




For the vegetables:

1 pound green beans

1 pound zucchini

2 tablespoons extra virgin-olive oil

1 tsp salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper


2 tbs chopped roasted hazelnuts

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


For the pesto:

2 garlic cloves

3 Tbs toasted hazelnuts

2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves

1 tsp lemon zest

1 Tbs fresh lemon juice

¾ to 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste



For the roasted vegetables:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Trim the ends of the green beans and slice the squash diagonally into ½ inch slices.   Lay the vegetables on a parchment lined baking sheet, toss with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.


Roast, stirring once halfway through, until lightly caramelized and crisp tender, 12 to 15 minutes.  To serve plate the vegetables with a spoonful of pesto and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and hazelnuts.


For the pesto:

In a food processor or high-speed blender, combine the garlic, hazelnuts, basil, lemon zest and lemon juice and a ¼ cup olive oil.  Process until a paste forms and then slowly drizzle in the rest of the olive oil until the desired consistency is reached.  Season with salt and pepper.


blissful eats with tina jeffers: Peanut butter banana breakfast cookies

The scale has been slowly creeping into danger territory and I need to dial in my diet a little bit better.  I have mentioned before that I am terrible about eating breakfast so I wanted to come up with something that I could grab on the go.  And who can resist cookies for breakfast?  I am hoping that telling my brain that I am having cookies in the morning will make it easier for me to resist sweet treats the rest of the day.  I have always been intrigued by the concepts of breakfast cookies and wanted to try to create my own version without sacrificing flavor.  They are wholesome and made healthier than your usual cookies by using coconut oil and bananas instead of butter.  They are also loaded with oats, peanut butter, coconut, hemp seeds and cocoa nibs.  One or two in the morning should give you plenty of energy to make it through to lunch.  So go ahead and indulge, eat a cookie for breakfast without the guilt!

Peanut butter banana breakfast cookies


Makes about 14 cookies




1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1 cup oats

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 ripe bananas

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup natural peanut butter

¼ cup natural cane sugar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon hemp seeds

¼ cup cocoa nibs

¼ cup coconut

turbanido sugar (optional)



Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper


In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda.  In a stand mixer, mix the bananas, coconut oil, peanut butter and sugars until well combined, add the egg.  Add the flour mixture along with the hemp seeds, cocoa nibs and coconut. 


Using a tablespoon scoop, drop rounds of cookie batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.  Flatten the cookies slightly with your fingers.  Sprinkle the tops with turbanido sugar if desired.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are lightly golden brown.  Allow the cookies to cool slightly before eating.

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