Arugula Pesto

Pesto, in pretty much all forms, is delicious. As you may recall, I recently discovered a quinoa pesto from Trader Joe’s which was pretty amazing. Jarred pesto is, quite honestly, the way to go a lot of times. It’s cheaper than homemade, quick, no mess, and delicious.

But there are times you want the real thing. The homemade thing. The equally delicious thing. And this arugula pesto from Bake Your Day certainly comes in handy for that! Arugula is a really hardy leafy green and packs a punch in its own right, and along with the garlic, they are equally show-stoppers. I omitted the walnuts and used slivered almonds instead, and it was great too.

As you can see, I paired it with pasta, but you can really pair it with anything!

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Arugula Pesto

serves 2-4

Ingredients:
-2cu fresh arugula, packed
-2 large cloves garlic, peeled (or more)
-2tbsp toasted walnuts
-1/2cu olive oil
-1/2tsp salt, more or less as needed
-1/2tsp pepper, more or less as needed
-1/2cu Parmesan cheese

Directions:
-Combine arugula, garlic and walnuts in a food processor. Add half of the olive oil and pulse to process it. Continue to process on medium speed while streaming in the rest of the olive oil (for those of us with regular food processors, you’ll have to stop, open the lid, pour in more, then keep going). Season with salt and pepper and then stir in Parmesan cheese.
Note: To toast the walnuts, place the walnuts in a small pan over medium heat. Allow them to toast, shaking the pan often. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.

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Thai Pork Salad with Cellophane Noodles

I have been wanting to try this Thai pork salad with cellophane noodles by Bev Cooks forever. But it is not a husband-friendly dish by any stretch. Well, it is not a MY husband-friendly dish. This is the man that groans when I suggest going to Thai for dinner. This is the man that really, really branched out at my birthday dinner this year by ordering curry for the first time (which he loved). He has made many strides in the adventurous eating category, but I knew this was not a dish he’d eat willingly.

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I even discussed with a friend, that sometimes to get him to eat new food, I don’t tell him what’s for dinner and just plop a plate in front of him. This has actually worked before. Or I just become really vague…”what’s for dinner?”…”oh, you know, pork…”…”yum!” This has worked too.

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However, on the night I made this, things went awry and I don’t remember how it played out since it was several weeks ago now, but he wasn’t home at the time and came home later and it was in the fridge waiting and he made something else instead, with the promise of trying it later, but that never happened. Dang.

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BUT that meant MORE FOR ME. This was so good, guys. Like, gobbling up for lunches for days, good. Like, I wanted to eat the entire huge bowl the first night. My pictures look quite a bit different from the original blogger’s (and not just because she’s a better photographer), but my noodles broke down a lot and didn’t look as glassy as hers. But it was delicious. It tasted very Thai-esque and it was a very light, thin meal, if that makes any sense. The flavours were just sensational together. If you are feeling less adventurous, you can play around with it, or make it into a fusion-taco, etc. If you don’t like pork, you could also substitute a different meat. I also added tons of sriracha, of course.

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Thai Pork Salad with Cellophane Noodles

serves 4+

Ingredients:
-2cu cellophane noodles
-1lb ground pork
-2-3tbsp Chinese five-spice seasoning
-3 cloves garlic, chopped
-1tbsp fresh ginger root, minced
-2tbsp brown sugar
-1cu peanuts, roughly chopped
-4 scallions, finely sliced
-2cu loosely packed cilantro, chopped
-1cu loosely packed mint, chopped
-1 habanero, minced (I omitted this, since I thought my husband would be eating it)
-1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
-1 jalapeno pepper, minced
-juice of 1 lime
-1tbsp soy sauce
-2tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
-1/2tsp coarse salt

Directions:
-Soak the noodles in boiling water for a few minutes and drain. Reserve the noodles in a large bowl.
-Heat half of the oil in a pan over medium-high and start browning the pork. Once almost done, add the five-spice powder and toss it around for a second. Add the garlic, ginger, minced habanero, jalapeno, brown sugar, peanuts and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine and take off the heat.
-To the bowl with the noodles, add the mint, cilantro, scallions and red bell pepper. Add the browned pork mixture and toss to combine. -Squeeze the lime juice over, then drizzle with soy sauce and remaining extra virgin olive oil.

Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash

I have a confession to make. I am missing some pictures. Several weeks ago, I made this amazing Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash from Gal on a Mission and I took pictures – my husband also remembers me taking pictures – but I cannot find them anywhere.

Normally, I would be hesitant to post about it, but this dish was just too tasty to pass up posting on! You can click over to Gal on a Mission’s blog in order to see pictures. She has some great ones! My husband and I really love buffalo chicken (buffalo sauce is one of the only spicy dishes he can really handle), and I have been turning him on to my love of spaghetti squash. I still can’t get over how much it DOESN’T taste like squash! Or at least like the mushiness that I attribute to squash.

Since the squash is traditionally a bit sweeter, it is nice to pair it with the zing that comes from the buffalo sauce. It was so yummy and creamy! There really isn’t much else to say about it. 😉 Except that I wish I could find where those pictures went…

Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash

serves 2 + leftovers

Ingredients:
-1 large spaghetti squash
-1 (8oz) package of cream cheese
-1/2cu Frank’s Hot Sauce
-1/2cu ranch dressing
-1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
-2cu shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Place small holes into the squash skin with a fork, so that it can breathe during the cooking time.
-Place the spaghetti squash into a large casserole dish and bake for about 45 minutes, then allow the spaghetti squash to cool for 5-10 minutes.
-While you are letting the spaghetti squash cool, prepare the buffalo chicken by putting the cream cheese and the hot sauce in a large saucepan, and let the cream cheese melt. Then add in the ranch dressing and shredded chicken.
-Cut the spaghetti squash length-wise in half and scoop out the insides. Place the buffalo chicken on top of the spaghetti squash and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.
-Bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese has completely melted.

Orange Beef and Barley Pilaf (Weight Watchers)

I realize, once again, that it has been SOOOOO long since I have posted on this blog! This time, I have the busy-ness of life, as well as starting my own business to thank! I fell in love with Jamberry Nail Wraps so much that I decided to start selling them – check out my site for Never the Same Jams here. Nails and cooking – my two therapies. Bonus: I don’t have to worry about chipping polish when I’m peeling garlic or onions. 😉

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Several weeks ago (maybe months?) I made this delicious WW-inspired orange beef and barley pilaf from food.com! It was pretty simple and tasty. The pilaf, I must admit, was my favourite part. I don’t use barley very often (aka ever), but I had some left over from a beef and barley stew I made awhile back, and it is a nice change-up from rice, pasta, and quinoa.

I wish I could remember more about this dish, but I didn’t really change or edit much, though I might have added in more spices or sauces to amp up the flavour (I’ve found that some WW recipes unnecessarily skimp on flavour). Enjoy!

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Orange Beef and Barley Pilaf

serves 2-4

Ingredients:
For the beef
-3 scallions, sliced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1tbsp peeled fresh ginger, minced
-1tbps grated orange zest
-1lb boneless sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into matchstick-thin strips
-10oz fresh sugar snap or snow peas and baby carrots
-2tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
-2tbsp orange juice
-1tsp cornstarch
-1tbsp cold water
For the barley
-1cu broth
-2⁄3cu quick-cooking barley
-2cu sliced mushrooms
-1tbsp low sodium soy sauce

Directions:
For the beef
-Spray a large nonstick wok or skillet with nonstick spray and set over high heat. When a drop of water sizzles on it, add the scallions, garlic, ginger, and orange zest. Stir-fry until the scallions soften, about 1 minute.
-Add the beef and stir-fry until browned, about 3 minutes. Then add the sugar snap peas and baby carrots, and stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce and orange juice, then bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 seconds.
-Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl until smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture to the wok and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened, 30 seconds (at this point, I felt this was a little unnecessary, as it wasn’t overly thick to begin with, but use your best judgment).
For the barley
-Bring broth to a boil in a saucepan, then add quick-cooking barley. Simmer, covered, for about 12 minutes (my barley was not quick-cooking, so I had to adjust my cooking time).
-Spray a skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until tender (you can do this without mushrooms – I just used whole ones, for my husband, but I picked them off my dish). Add the barley and soy sauce. Then serve.

Chicken Pesto Pizza

I have been totally MIA lately, because I have been focusing on a new endeavor! I started my own business with Jamberry Nails! They are amazing vinyl nail wraps that are heat-activated and come in 300+ colours and styles. There are plain ones, wild ones, sparkly ones, striped ones, French manicured ones, and so forth. Feel free to click on the link above to browse online! My business name is also a play on my food blog – Never The Same Jams. The name is courtesy of my makeup guru friend Alysha.
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Speaking of food, I made this yummmmmmmy pesto chicken pizza from Six Sisters Stuff a few weeks ago, and I am excited to share it with you! It was so, so, so good! I used jarred pesto, which was actually a pesto made with quinoa from TJ’s. It was a great way to pump up normal pesto, and also made the pizza that much more filling.

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I actually omitted several ingredients from this pizza – like the mushrooms and tomatoes. I also put the bell pepper on my half of the pizza only (not that I ate half of it in one sitting – but I could have, it was so good!).
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I also didn’t make my own crust, and I used my go-to whole wheat dough from TJ’s also. Whenever I’m at TJ’s, I usually buy 2-3 extra bags of dough and freeze them, so that way they are ready to go whenever I want homemade pizza, since the nearest TJ’s is about 15-20 minutes out of the way to get to.
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Speaking of which, TJ’s is the *only* place I can find dough in the Seattle area! When I lived in upstate New York, pizza dough was super commonplace in every single grocery store, so it was quite a shock when I moved back here. Oh well, what can ya do…Washingtonians don’t like pizza the way New Yorkers (even from upstate) do!
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Pesto Chicken Pizza

serves about 4

Ingredients:
-1/2cu prepared pesto (I actually used a bit more, since the quinoa pesto was thicker and less liquidy)
-2cu shredded mozzarella cheese
-1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and diced (I cooked mine at 400F for about 30mins, then shredded it)
-1 small onion, thinly sliced
-1 green bell pepper, diced
-1/2cu sliced fresh mushrooms (I omitted)
-1 tomato, diced (I omitted)
-Pizza dough

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Roll out the dough and spread the pesto over the surface of the pizza. Sprinkle the cheese over the pesto and then add on all of the other toppings.
-Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is done.

Sloppy Joe Tacos

I have weird tastes. I am fully aware of this. So much so, that I had no shame while making (and devouring) these sloppy joe tacos by Gimme Some Oven.  I love sloppy joes and I love tacos and I love fusion! This happened because I was going through my Pinterest recipes one day, deciding what to make for dinner (I’ve been really bad at meal-planning ahead lately), and realized I had basically all of the ingredients at home already. I decided to forego the red bell pepper, because they were really expensive at the grocery store and my husband doesn’t like them anyway.
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This recipe is really good!!  You can basically make anything into a taco (or pizza, as I have done many times before, as well!) and the outcome is almost always fabulous. For my friends that don’t like sloppy joes (yes, I mean you, Alysha!), I highly recommend that you give it a shot and throw it into a taco! It has some normal fixings you’d find in tacos (ground beef, onion, etc.) plus the addition of the sauce that makes it a “sloppy joe” and topped with shredded cheese. Seriously – how does that sound bad? 😉 😉
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Sloppy Joe Tacos

serves about 6

Ingredients:
-1tbsp olive oil
-1lb lean ground beef
-1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
-1 small red bell pepper, cored and diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2cu tomato sauce
-2tbsp packed brown sugar
-1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
-1tsp chili powder
-pinch of salt and pepper, to taste
-hard crunchy taco shells
-optional toppings: shredded Mexican cheese, chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, diced avocado, etc.

Directions:
-Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and cook until browned, breaking up the beef and stirring occasionally. Drain off as much excess fat as you can and discard it.
-Return the skillet to the heat, and add the onion, red bell pepper and garlic to it. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.
-Meanwhile, While the veggies are cooking, whisk together in a bowl, the tomato sauce, brown sugar, worcestershire, and chili powder until combined. Once the veggies are done, add the tomato sauce mixture to the ground beef and stir until combined. Continue cooking until the mixture reaches a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes (you may need to cover the pan to avoid red sauce splattering the stove). Season with salt and pepper, then remove from heat.
-Place the sloppy joe filling inside the taco shells and top with your desired accompaniments.

Homemade Zuppa Toscana

I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I really do love the Olive Garden. My husband and I usually only go there when we get a gift card, or if we are randomly craving soup, salad, and breadsticks. Speaking of the breadsticks, we have debated several times which is better, OG breadsticks or Red Lobster biscuits (which, we also only go to Red Lobster when we get a gift card, which seems to be often…). Mmm. Totally craving all of that right now.
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Also speaking of soup at the Olive Garden, while I love most of them, zuppa toscana is just my FAVOURITE. I mean, how could it not be? It is fully of amazingness – ground sausage, not too overly cooked kale, potato, cream…oh so heavenly. I also have been discovering several knockoff (aka homemade) zuppa toscana recipes, which I just love! This sausage, potato, and kale soup from The Pioneer Woman is no different – and who doesn’t adore the pioneer woman? 😉

Does it still count as a different recipe, if each version is basically the same, just tweaked very slightly to that particular chef or blogger’s taste? I think so. Yes. Because I would like to keep making it all the time! 😉
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I made a few minor changes, but basically to suit my own needs – I used regular ground pork sausage (it was leftover from my brother’s pig – mmmm homegrown pork) and russet potatoes (as they were given to me by my M-i-L and I needed to use them up). I also altered the milk, cream, and half’n’half ratio, as I didn’t have the appropriate amounts of them all (I think I mixed heavy cream with the half’n’half, and used nonfat milk). Also, I used only one head of kale, since I actually reduced the liquid ingredients a little (it calls for 12 servings). I will post the instructions as originally written, and feel free to alter to your own needs! =)

The best part of making so much amazing soup? LEFTOVERS!!!
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Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup (aka Homemade Zuppa Toscana)

serves a lot

Ingredients:
-2 bunches kale, cut into bite-size pieces
-12 small red potatoes, sliced thin
-1 onion, chopped
-1.5lbs Italian sausage
-1/2tsp red pepper flakes
-2cu low sodium chicken broth
-2cu whole milk
-4cu half-and-half
-splash of heavy cream
-fresh or dried oregano
-black pepper, to taste

Directions:
-Rise and chop the kale, then set aside.
-In a medium pot. boil sliced potatoes until tender, then drain and set aside.
-In a large pot, crumble and brown the Italian sausage, drain the fat, stir in the red pepper flakes, oregano, chicken broth, milk, and half-and-half. Simmer for 30 minutes.
-Taste the soup and adjust the flavouring as needed. Then add the potatoes, a splash of heavy cream for richness, and stir in the kale. Simmer an additional 5-10 minutes, then serve.