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    I had forgotten how good pesto can be. That is, until I had more basil in my garden than I knew what to do with. Then, it was tortelloni with pesto, pesto chicken pizza, pesto on bread, pesto in everything! It all starts with a great pesto.

Ingredients:
3 c basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
1/4 c pine nuts (toast 'em if you  like)
1 c grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c olive oil

Directions:

    Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until they form a paste. 

    If you're not going to use all of it at once, make sure you pour a little olive oil on the top before you put it in the refrigerator, because the basil will turn brown when it's exposed to air. 

    For a fantastic Pesto Chicken Pizza, top your favorite pizza dough with pesto, a cut up cooked chicken breast, some artichoke hearts, and some shredded mozzarella.

 
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    This is a super simple marinade, made from things you probably already have. What makes it magic, though, is that you save the marinade after you take the salmon out, and once you cook it on the stove, it becomes a savory sauce to serve over the salmon.  





Ingredients:

1/3 c brown sugar
1/3 c soy sauce
1/3 c water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 lemon, juice only
1 t cornstarch (for the sauce)
1 T butter (for the sauce)

Directions:

    Mix together everything but the cornstarch and butter in a bowl or food safe ziplock bag, add the salmon (skin side up so the meat is in the marinade), and let it sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

    Remove the salmon from the marinade, and cook it according to your preference. I prefer to grill it on the charcoal grill, but baked or broiled would be great, too! While the salmon is cooking, pour the marinade into a saucepan, add the butter, and bring it to a boil. Let the marinade boil and reduce, stirring occasionally, for at least 5 minutes. Wisk in the teaspoon of cornstarch, mix it completely, and remove from heat.

    Pour the sauce over the cooked salmon, and serve.

    I like to serve this with rice to soak up all the extra sauce. Mmm...


Image courtesy of [image creator name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 
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    You know how some nights all of a sudden it's 5pm and the kids are hungry, you haven't had time to go to the grocery store yet this week, and you're not about to eat another fast food burger? One night like this, I raided the pantry and the freezer in the hopes that SOMETHING in there had to be edible, and this is how Tuna Tater Tot Casserole was born! It went over so well that now I make it by request.





Ingredients:
1 bag of frozen tater tots, about 16 oz.
1/4 c butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 c milk
10 oz canned tuna, drained (2 small cans)
1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
got any vegetables? frozen peas, carrots, corn, green onions, spinach...
salt and pepper, to taste
parmesan cheese

Directions:

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

    Put the tater tots in a casserole or baking dish, and bake them for about 20 minutes, stirring them up halfway through. 

    Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and saute the onions for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and saute for another couple of minutes. Add the milk, bring to a boil, and remove from heat.

    When the tater tots are done, pour the butter, milk, onions, and garlic into the baking dish (watch out, it's hot). Add the tuna, shredded cheddar cheese, salt, pepper, and any cooked vegetables, and mix it all together, chopping up the tater tots. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top, and throw it all back in the oven for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

    

 
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    This is another inexpensive, easy meal with a big payoff. Chicken and cheese are stuffed into large shells, and drizzled with a creamy alfredo sauce. I added spinach and basil, and we all loved it.








Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 stick of butter
1 lemon, juice only
1 packet dry Italian Dressing mix
2 c chopped fresh spinach
2 T chopped fresh basil
1 c ricotta cheese
1 c shredded mozzarella
1 box large shell pasta
1 jar alfredo sauce (I used Classico's Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo and it was AMAZING!)
parmesan cheese

Directions:

Place butter, chicken, lemon juice, and Italian dressing mix in the slow cooker, and let it cook on low for about 8 hours. When the chicken is fall-apart tender, shred it with forks, and stir in the spinach, basil, ricotta, and mozzarella.

Heat a pot of salted water, and boil the shell pasta according to the directions on the package, and heat the alfredo sauce in a saucepan until it's ready to serve.

When the shells are soft, drain them, and fill them with the cheesy chicken stuffing. Pour alfredo sauce on top, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve hot, and enjoy!

You could also use marinara or vodka sauce, or mix the alfredo sauce in with the cheesy chicken, and serve it over spagetti or macaroni noodles.

 
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    Fish and Chips was always one of my favorite things to order at a restaurant because I love it, but I felt like was such a hassle to get out the fryer and make it myself. However, now that I have this recipe, I find myself making it much more often because this seasoned batter is so awesome, it tastes better at home than in the restaurant! It's become one of our favorite meals, and I hope your family enjoys it as much as we do!



Ingredients:
2 lbs fish fillets, cod and tillapia are my favorites
1 c flour
1 T paprika
1 T garlic powder
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 egg
1 beer (I prefer Hefeweizen for this)
Vegetable oil for frying

Directions:

If you have a fryer, heat the oil to about 365 degrees. If you're frying in a pan, set it to medium-high.

Mix together the flour, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and egg, and slowly add the beer, mixing it together slowly until the batter is smooth.

Dip one fish fillet in the batter, covering it completely, and then CAREFULLY drop it in the hot oil. I can usually fit three fillets in at a time. Make sure they aren't touching, and turn the fillets over once to ensure thye are cooked completely. It usually takes about five minutes to cook each piece to a nice crispy golden brown. Remove fish from the hot oil, and dry them off on paper towels. Serve while hot.

I like to serve them with sweet potato fries. They're baked, so they won't compete with the fish for space in the fryer.


 
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    Shut the front door! I just made these for the first time today, and they tasted so INCREDIBLE that as soon as I was so full that I couldn't eat another bite, I ran to the computer to share the recipe. If these tacos were any easier, they'd do the dishes themselves. I can't even handle how easy and delicious they are. They should be illegal or something.











Ingredients:
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts. They can even still be frozen (so freakin easy).
1 8oz jar of salsa. I used Mild Pace Picante
1 packet of taco seasoning

Taco Shells
Guacamole
Cotija Cheese
Anything else you want on your tacos...

Directions:
    First, put the chicken in the slow cooker, and cover it with the taco seasoning and salsa. Let it cook all day on low, for up to 9 hours. When the chicken is ready, shred it with a fork, and mix it up with the sauce.  

    I put mine on taco shells and topped it with guacamole and cotija cheese, and was blown away by how good they were. 

    You could also use the chicken for taco pasta, in chili, enchiladas, burritos, nachos, taco salad... The possibilities are endless!