Carrot Ginger Zinger Soup

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 As the colder weather sets in and the gray days get shorter, it is time for soup season to begin! This is one of my favorite soups to transition from the long summer days outside into the cooler autumn afternoons in my kitchen. My beloved soup pot eagerly awaits this treasure! The rich colors and flavors of root vegetables paired with the zing of fresh ginger make this a deliciously light meal that packs a nutritional punch. Lots of vitamin C and antioxidants boost the immune system for the cold and flu season right around the corner. I like to add steamed kale and roasted chicken to my zinger soup to make it a full meal deal with plenty of protein and leafy greens. InJoy!

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2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup chopped white onion

4 cups chopped carrots

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh peeled ginger

1 tablespoon lemon juice

14-ounce can coconut milk

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1) Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

2) Add the carrots, broth, orange juice, ginger, and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.

3) Remove from the heat. Puree with immersion blender or food processor, until very smooth.

4) Return the soup to the saucepan and stir in the coconut milk, salt, and pepper. Reheat the soup over medium heat until hot. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

Zucchini Pesto and Goodbyes

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This week has been full of goodbyes. My garden vegetables and herbs spring up with their last hopeful reach for the sun before returning to the earth until next spring. Autumn is right around the corner, so the time has come to bid farewell to long, warm summer nights and hot, sunny days on the lake. And my least favorite goodbye, a good friend Kelly is moving out of state. Portland gets all the cool kids!

Like tend I to do, out of necessity in the process or simply as an excuse to cook and eat, I invite Kelly over for one last meal to share before she hits the road. This is also the exact meal at which summer fades into fall within my kitchen. Huge zucchinis and tomatoes plucked from the vines will be replaced by Crockpot whole chickens and bone broth simmering on the stove. For tonight though, we basque in summer, and fresh zucchini with sundried tomatoes and fresh basil pesto is about as much summer flavor as a plate can handle.

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Ingredients:

2 large, fresh zucchinis

1 cup walnuts

2 cups fresh basil

½ cup high quality olive oil

2-4 cloves garlic

1 Tbls. fresh lemon juice

½ tsp. salt

Dash of pepper

¼ cup sundried tomatoes (jarred in oil if store-bought)

Instructions:

  1. Grate the zucchinis on a box grater, through the food processor or if you’re super fancy a with a zoodler!
  2. Combine all other ingredients besides sun-dried tomatoes in food processor and blend until incorporated, but slightly chunky. Mix in tomatoes by hand.
  3. Serve like a cold pasta dish… Place zucchini in a bowl and top with pesto. Viola! Injoy!

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And farewell, Kelly Dear! So many well wishes, new meal memories and southward visits coming your way!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

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This is a deliciously hearty spring supper. Simple and quick to prepare, stuffed bell peppers are a crowd pleaser every time! I used zucchini and portabella mushrooms in addition to red peppers and served them with a helping of lightly blanched asparagus. Make a larger batch and freeze the leftovers for quick meals throughout the week. Injoy!

Ingredients:  

2 Bell peppers, halved, cored and seeded

1 Tbls. Coconut oil

½ Large onion, diced

Sea salt and black pepper

4 Cloves garlic, minced or grated

1 lb. Ground beef, bison, lamb of turkey

2 cups fresh spinach

Fresh basil to taste

Instructions:  

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place the belle pepper halves facedown in a roasting dish and bake for 10-15 minutes.
  3. While the bell peppers are cooking, heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, adding salt and pepper to taste, until translucent. Reduce to medium heat and add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Add the meat and cook until nearly done.
  5. Mix in the spinach and cook until wilted. 1-2 more minutes.
  6. Add salt, pepper and fresh basil to taste.
  7. Remove the peppers from the oven (they should be just a bit softened) and flip them over. Spoon the stuffing into each one.
  8. Put peppers back into the oven and roast for another 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
  9. Garnish with basil leaves and serve.
  10. Optional- use zucchini and portabella mushrooms in place of red peppers.

 

Asian Steak Salad

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I made this delicious salad from the Make it Paleo cookbook for a group of friends that came by over the weekend. It is tasty and colorful and makes for a wonderful presentation when serving to guests. I recommend marinating the steak overnight for ultimate flavor. If you cannot find coconut aminos in your local grocery store, you can order it here. Or tamari and soy sauce can both work as substitutes. Also, a mandolin works great with this recipe to cut down on time chopping vegetables. I have found mine to be a lifesaver on many occasions! And lastly, I love to make a double recipe of this salad and keep it in the fridge for a quick lunch to go. Just leave the oranges and dressing on the side and the cabbage and other ingredients keep beautifully for 5-7 days. Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

Steak Marinade

2 Tbls. coconut aminos

2 Tbls. fish sauce

½ tsp. each, salt and pepper

Red pepper flakes, to taste

1 clove garlic

½ tsp. fresh ginger, minced

 

Salad

10 oz sirloin steak

2 cups shredded cabbage

¼ cup red belle pepper, sliced thin

1 radish, sliced thin

1 medium carrot, shredded

8 grape tomatoes, halved

½ navel orange, chopped

1/8 cup slivered almonds

½ green onion, chopped

 

Sesame Ginger Dressing

½ Tbls. garlic, minced

½ Tbls. fresh ginger, minced

2 Tbls. toasted sesame oil

2 Tbls. coconut aminos

2 tsp. sesame seeds

½ tsp. each: salt, pepper and red pepper flakes

 

Instructions:

1. Whisk together all ingredients for sesame ginger dressing and steak marinade

2. Marinade steak for at least 3 hours before cooking

3. Grill sirloin steak on high for approximately 4 minutes per side, flipping once

4. While letting the steak rest, rinse and chop all vegetables as well as the orange and toss together

5. Slice the steak thinly

6. Plate salad, and top with strips of steak

7. Drizzle with dressing and serve

Mystery Box Challenge: Persimmons, Jicama, Anaheim Chili, Mint, Fresh Ginger and Lamb Chops

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Every so often I like to pretend I’m on Chopped (one of my favorite cooking programs) and participating in a Mystery Box Challenge. You know the one, the box of several mystery ingredients that usually don’t pair well, and a limited amount of time to create an awesome dish to present. In my version, I imagine myself closing my eyes and spinning around in circles in the middle of the produce department of my grocery store and throwing the first few items I point at into my basket. In reality I peruse the brightly colored shelves and give myself 1 minute to choose 4 random items that I’ve never worked with before and take them home to play in the kitchen. And I don’t give myself a time limit, just try to engage my creativity and come up with something seasonal and delicious for dinner.

On this particular foggy Tuesday afternoon, I stopped at the produce stand a few blocks from my home. I had gone to pick out a few items for a dining room centerpiece. Hard, colorful little bundles of decorative corn on the cob, a bumpy dark green gourde and a perfectly round white pumpkin. As I shopped, more veggies were being loaded in from the farm truck and I started to get inspired. Persimmons, about 9 different varieties of squash and lots of leafy greens were beginning to stack up near the entrance. Mmmmm! A perfect opportunity for a Mystery Box Challenge!

I glanced at my watch and begun the 1 minute countdown. I knew those perfectly ripe persimmons were coming with me, so I immediately put 4 into my basket. After that, I passed the pyramid of jicama, a yam-like vegetable from Mexico. I had no idea what to do with that, perfect! Into the basket. Next, I walked quickly over to the herb section. Mint and fresh ginger jumped out at me. Not a likely pair. I very rarely cook with mint unless it’s sprinkled on a fruit salad, so that was a great addition. And ginger I’ve mostly only used in smoothies, tea and an occasional pumpkin pie. Into the basket they went. Lastly, I knew I wanted something with a kick. I grabbed the first hot pepper I saw, which happened to be an Anaheim chili. Great! Done! On the way home, I also stopped by the butcher and picked up a couple of lamb chops for protein and snipped a few sprigs of rosemary from my neighbor’s enormous hedge.

Back in the kitchen, my culinary adventure began. Without realizing it initially, several of the ingredients come from the warmer southern region and actually pair together quite nicely. I used the jicama and fresh mint in a slaw with green apples and carrots. The persimmons I made into chutney with the chili and ginger along with golden raisins, green apple and other warming spices. This went perfectly with the lamb chops, for which I made a rub with the fresh rosemary and some garlic and sea salt. It all came together beautifully! In addition I did sauté up some kale and onion with coconut oil as the plate was looking a bit void of greenery.

When is the last time you challenged yourself in the kitchen or in other areas of your life? Where do you become your most creative self? Do you tend to stay within your comfort zone much of the time? There is a popular saying ‘Magic happens outside your comfort zone.” I certainly agree with that sentiment and the delicious meal created that day is a shining example. This week, think outside the box. Pick up an ingredient you’ve never worked, or try a new technique in the kitchen you’ve never tried (wok much?). Challenge yourself, get creative and have fun! Injoy!

 

Jicama and Green Apple Slaw

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Ingredients:

1 cup matchstick-cut Granny Smith apple

1 cup matchstick-cut jicama

1/2 cup matchstick-cut carrots

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Instructions:

1. Toss apple, jicama and carrots together in a large bowl.

2 Place mint leaves, olive oil, sugar, vinegar, Dijon mustard and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until blended but slightly chunky, about two 10-second intervals.

3. Pour dressing over apple mixture; toss until well mixed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Persimmon Chili Chutney

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Ingredients:

2/3 apple cup cider vinegar

3/4 cup water

1 cup chopped onion

1 large tart apple – peeled, cored and chopped

1 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 Anaheim chili pepper, chopped fine

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon ground coriander seed

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

4 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and chopped

Instructions:

1. In a large saucepan combine the apple cider vinegar, water, chopped onion, chopped apple, golden raisins, sugar, lemon juice, chili, ginger, lemon peel, coriander and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, stirring frequently, about 25 minutes. Add the persimmons and simmer until the persimmons are tender about 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate chutney. May be made a day or two ahead.

 

Rosemary Crusted Lamb Chops

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Ingredients:

1 pound lamb chops or rack of lamb

2 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

4 Tbsp olive oil, divided

Instructions:

1. In a small bowl, mix the rosemary, salt, pepper, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the        olive oil together. Coat the lamb chops with the mixture, massaging it into the meat with your fingers. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.

2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, sear the lamb chops on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

3. At this point, if you want your lamb chops rare, they are likely cooked enough. Remove them from the pan; cover them with foil and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. If you would like your chops more cooked, you can put them in a 400°F oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or keep them in the hot pan, remove from heat, and cover the pan for a few minutes. Then remove from the pan to a plate or cutting board, cover with foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving

Pork and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

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I made these little treats for a good friend’s birthday potluck and they were a hit! Free of gluten, grains, dairy, soy, corn, sugar, etc. This is exactly the kind of dish I like to bring to special occasions with large groups of people whose dietary needs I’m unsure of. They are a wonderful finger food, tasty, and pack a great amount of protein and nutrients. Important for those events where alcohol may be consumed! Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 lb ground pork (turkey or beef work great as well)

28 oz whole mushrooms

3 cups baby spinach, chopped

1 tsp dried sage

1⁄2 tsp garlic powder

1⁄2 tsp salt

1⁄2 tsp pepper

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems.

3. Chop the stems and reserve for the filling.

4. Begin to brown the ground pork over medium-high heat.

5. After 5 minutes, add the chopped mushroom stems.

6. Season with spices and cook until the pork and mushrooms are cooked through.

7. Add spinach and cook until wilted.

8. Add Dijon mustard and stir to combine. Allow the filling to cool slightly.

9. Lightly oil and season the mushrooms with salt and pepper.

10. Add about 1 tsp of filling to each mushroom.

11. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked.

 

In the Crockpot: Herb-Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

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There’s nothing quite like opening your front door after a long day at work and being welcomed by the aroma of herb roasted chicken hot and ready to carve and consume. I use my Crockpot 2-3 times a week during the winter and I love and appreciate it more each time!

The assembly of this one pot wonder takes about 10 minutes in the morning (you can even chop the veggies and herbs the night before and have them waiting in the fridge for you if that works better) and is easy as can be! The wonderful thing about using a whole chicken is that, depending on how many are enjoying the meal, there are usually leftovers that can be a wonderful lunch the following day. And making bone broth is fantastic way to utilize the incredible nutrition of all the leftover bits. The gift that just keeps giving! Injoy!

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Ingredients:

1 free-range, organic chicken

2 sweet potatoes or yams

4 potatoes

4 or more stalks of celery

4 or more carrots

1 large onions

1 head of garlic, peeled

ghee (or pasture butter)

juice of ½ lemon

thyme (dried or fresh)

sage(dried or fresh)

rosemary (dried or fresh)

freshly ground pepper

sea salt

 

Instructions:

1. Rinse chicken and pat dry.

2. Place in roasting pan and rub ghee (or pasture butter) over the breast and legs.

3. Squeeze lemon juice over chicken.

4. Arrange chopped vegetables all around chicken and season everything with salt, pepper, thyme, sage and rosemary.

5. Roast covered in Crockpot for about 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low (Could be longer depending on weight of chicken).

 

In the Crockpot: Butternut Squash Soup

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This soup rocked my world this weekend! And got rave reviews from the friends I shared it with, I might add. An extremely simple recipe to create, just gather the ingredients, toss them into the Crockpot and leave it alone for 6-8 hours. At the end, blend it all up into a creamy pot of deliciousness and enjoy! This is the perfect type of meal to prepare the night before, set the Crockpot to ‘on’ before you leave for work and have a hot, delicious, nutritious meal waiting for you around dinnertime.

Recipe:

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 large onion, rough chopped

1 can full-fat coconut milk or equivalent amount of homemade coconut milk

1 cup chicken broth

1 apple, peeled and cut into chunks

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Place all ingredients in slow cooker and set to Low. Allow 6 to 8 hours to cook. When squash is soft, blend soup with an immersion blender or carefully transfer to a blender to process. Consistency should be smooth and silky.

Season with unrefined sea salt and pepper, and top with a swirl of olive oil or balsamic vinegar. In the photo, I also added a topping of crisp bacon for a little extra protein and green onions for a tasty zing. Injoy!

Thanksgiving Recipes! Bacon Herbed Turkey, Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Sauce

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As promised, here are the recipes from a very merry Paleo Thanksgiving, starting with the bird, of course! Below, you will also find instructions for the Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts and Easy Orangey Cranberry Sauce. Injoy!

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Brined, Herb Roasted Turkey

Brining is the process of soaking meat in a salt solution. The saltwater is absorbed into the meat, adding extra moisture. The result is that the turkey will hold onto more juices and flavor than it would otherwise. I’m the first to admit, brining can be a bit of a hassle, and while I relish spending all day in the kitchen, I work with a lot of folks that don’t. That’s why they hire me, to learn all the shortcuts possible and still acquire the most nourishment from their meals. That being said, this is an area where it really pays off to take the extra time and make it over-the-top. Once you try brining, it will be hard to go back to the old way of doing things.

Brine

· 1 cup salt

· 1⁄4 cup molasses

· 3⁄4 cup sucanat or coconut sugar

· 2 oranges, skins scrubbed thoroughly and cut in quarters

· 2 lemons, skins scrubbed thoroughly and cut in quarters

· 6 sprigs thyme

· 4 sprigs rosemary

· 1 (10 to 12-pound) turkey

· 1 large orange, scrubbed and cut into 1/8ths

· 4 tablespoons refined coconut oil (refined oil has less coconut flavor) OPTIONAL: sub unsalted butter at room temperature

· Salt and pepper

· 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/8ths

· 1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces

· 1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces

· 2 bay leaves

· 5 sprigs thyme

· 4sprigs rosemary

· 1/2 bunch sage

· 3 or 4 sprigs parsley

· 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or turkey stock, for basting

1. To make the brining solution, dissolve the salt, molasses and sugar in 8 cups of water on the stove. Add this to 2 gallons of cold water in a nonreactive container (such as a clean bucket or large ceramic stockpot, or a clean, heavy-duty, food grade plastic storage bag).

2. Add the oranges, lemons, thyme, and rosemary. Note: if you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup sucanat for every gallon of water.

3. Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity of the turkey. (I recommend putting them immediately on the stove in a pot of water to begin making a stock for the gravy. It is incredibly nutritious to utilize these organs meats. They can also be incorporated into a soup stock with the carcass or roasted separately and enjoyed.)

4. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water. Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

6. Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels both inside and out. Place turkey, breast side up, in a large, heavy roasting pan.

7. Rub breast side with orange segments and rub on all sides with the coconut oil or butter, stuffing some underneath the skin. Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper.

8. Stuff the turkey with the onion, remaining orange, celery, carrot, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley. Slip some herbs under the skin on the breast side between the meat and connective tissue. For added silly fun, place two lemon halves under the skin to give the lady turkey effect.

9. Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string.

10. Roast the turkey, uncovered, breast side down for 1 hour.

11. Remove from the oven, turn, and baste with 1/2 cup stock. Continue roasting with the breast side up until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F when inserted into the largest section of thigh (avoiding the bone), about 2 3/4 to 3 hours total cooking time.

12. Wrap the turkey in smoked maple bacon for the remaining duration of the cooking time for added moisture and flavor. (optional)

13. Baste the turkey once every hour with 1/2 to 3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock.

14. Remove from the oven and place on a platter. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

15. Don’t forget to make a wish with the wishbone!

16. Also, save the bacon to blend with the turkey drippings and stock to make gravy. This was seriously the best idea I’ve ever had.

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Maple Bacon Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

So many of the people in my life make a scrunched face when I mention Brussels sprouts being one of my very favorite vegetables. Like anything, there is a right way and a wrong way to enjoy this earthy veggie. Roasting is the perfect way to bring out the delicate flavors and create the best texture possible. And really, adding bacon makes pretty much anything delicious.

· 2 lbs Brussels sprouts

· 6 slices thick cut bacon

· 1/4 cup real maple syrup

· 2 large shallots

· 2 Tbsp bacon fat (drained from bacon)

· sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. Cook bacon, draining all but a tablespoon or so of fat into a glass bowl.

2. Cook shallots in the leftover fat in the pan.

3. Cut large sprouts in half.

4. In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts in fat and maple syrup. Sprinkle with salt and fresh paper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are browned.

5. While the sprouts are roasting, chop the bacon into small pieces and add to the shallots.

6. Remove sprouts from oven and add bacon mixture.

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Easy Orangey Cranberry Sauce

I tend to have a negative visceral response to the cranberry sauce of my childhood. The suction sound it makes as it’s exiting the can, the shape of all the little rivets that it holds, just standing there in the bowl, the overly sweet, metallic flavor. With cranberry sauce this easy to make, you’ll never need that purple canned stuff again!

· 1 bag of fresh cranberries

· Zest of 1 organic orange (Best to get organic since we will be using the skin.)

· 1/2 cup maple syrup

· 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (Optional, to turn some or all of your cranberry sauce into a chutney.)

1. Bring cranberries, orange zest and maple syrup to a slow boil and then simmer for 10-20 minutes, until thickened. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

2. Add walnuts while it’s cooling.

Vegan Pesto Stuffed Mushrooms

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I love making this dish for my vegan friends, but when I cook for myself, I tend to incorporate it with an entrée that has more of a paleo approach, ie. not-so-vegan ingredients. Like chicken (pictured). This pesto recipe has walnuts in the place of the Parmesan cheese, and plenty of fresh basil and garlic. Although my diet is not entirely dairy-free, I actually enjoy this pesto more that the cheesy variety. It’s fresh and light and delicious raw as well as baked (as in the stuffed mushrooms). For a raw meal, just incorporate it into a salad, add it to raw zucchini pasta, or use as a dip for cucumber, broccoli, carrots etc. This dish can be wonderful as an appetizer or, as I like to present it, as part of a main dish with a protein and vegetable. Makes a great holiday recipe! Injoy!

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     Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts

2 cups fresh basil

½ cup high quality olive oil

2-4 cloves garlic

1 Tbls. fresh lemon juice

½ tsp. salt

Dash of pepper

12 mini Portobello mushrooms

     Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until incorporated, but slightly chunky.

3. Pull stems off of mushrooms and place them face up in a 9×13 baking dish. Spray lightly with olive oil.

4. Fill each mushroom with 1-1 ½ Tbls. pesto.

5. Set some aside if you’d like to include a bit of dressing on fish or chicken.

6. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.