Cooking Kowalski


September 2015

Pesto Shrimp with Pasta

Basil Pesto

  • 3 c. fresh basil (I used what was on hand: 2 c. basil + 1 c. parsley)
  • 1/3 c. + 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 c. pine nuts (other nuts work too)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 c. grated parmesan
  • zest of one lemon (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Add all ingredients (except 2 T. EVOO) to a food processor and blend until smooth.  Scrape sides to make sure it’s all incorporated.  Stir in the last 2 T. oil.

Pesto will last 5-7 days in refrigerator or freeze for up to 4 months.


*adapted from

Make it a meal…

  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb. spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
  • Sriracha hot sauce to taste
  • lemon wedges for serving
  1. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. Mix a good amount of pesto with shrimp and sautee in a skillet until pink, 3-4 minutes.  I’d use at least half of the pesto, but it’s however you like it.  You can add more later if you want.
  3. Drain pasta, saving about 1/4 c. to add to your shrimp.
  4. Toss pasta and reserved water with shrimp and pesto.  Add sriracha sauce if you like a bit of spice.
  5. Serve with lemon wedges.
Use whole wheat pasta and you've got a quick and very healthy dinner!
Use whole wheat pasta and you’ve got a quick and very healthy dinner!

Appetizers (cream cheese!)

Okay, honestly, who doesn’t like cream cheese.  It’s a love-hate relationship because I know how bad it is for you, but oh it tastes so good!  So here are a couple of my favorite apps (…to eat in moderation, kind of 😉 )

Jalapeno Poppers – approx. 6 servings

  • 12 jalapenos
  • 1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened (I always use 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheese, any kind (sharp cheddar, mozz, smoky cheeses are especially good)
  • 2 oz feta cheese
  • 1 tsp grated fresh onion
  • fresh herbs optional (cilantro, parsley, chives)
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Cleaning the peppers:  I like to make boats.  You leave the stem on and cut a thin slice off the long ways of the pepper.  Then use a spoon to scrape out all the seeds and innards.  You can save the sliced-off pieces and add to the filling or use for something else, like eggs or hash the next morning 🙂  Rinse peppers and set aside.
    3. In a bowl mix softened cream cheese, your choice of shredded cheese, feta, onion, and herbs if you choose to use them.
    4. Stuff peppers with cheese mixture.  You can pile it up in those babies too.
    5. Bake for 15-20 minutes and then I like to broil for a few extra minutes just to brown the cheese a bit.
    Cheesy, spicy, sinful. It's a game when choosing your pepper whether you get a mild one or one that burns your face off! lol I always have milk on hand when I make these!
    Cheesy, spicy, sinful. It’s a game when choosing your pepper whether you get a mild one or one that burns your face off! lol I always have milk on hand when I make these!

    A variation of this recipe that my husband just loves is with bacon.  Basically the same concept, but then wrap a half slice of bacon around the peppers (don’t fill quite as full with cheese) and secure with a toothpick.  We find instead of baking these that broiling works better in making the bacon crispy.  Keep an eye on them; they’ll take 10-15 minutes.  We use a small roasting rack in a baking pan, which holds the peppers upright and the bacon grease drips to the bottom.


    Pizza Dip –  about 22 servings

    Even the black olive haters like my hubby rave about this dip!

    • 2 8-oz pkgs cream cheese
    • 1 15-oz can pizza sauce
    • 1 8-oz pkg mini pepperonis
    • 1 3.8-oz pkg chopped black olives
    •  2 c. (8oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
    • pretzel sticks, tortilla scoops, garlic toast, etc. to serve with
    1. First off, I make this recipe in one of those super small crockpots that’s perfect for warm appetizers.
    2. Place cream cheese in crockpot followed by pizza sauce, pepperoni, olives, and cheese.  No need to try and stir.
    3. Cover and cook on low for 1-2 hours until cheese is melted.  Now you can stir.
    4. Serve with chips or whatever you like!
    Pickle Wrap Dip – about 12 servings
    This dip gets brought to Thanksgiving or Christmas every year and is a huge hit! 
    • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
    • 16 oz sour cream
    • medium jar baby dill pickles, chopped
    • 4-5 oz dried beef, chopped

    Combine cream cheese and sour cream.  Add pickles and dried beef.  Serve with crackers!  So simple and so yummy! 🙂

    Sweet tooth

    Scotcharoos – 9×13 pan

    • 6 cups of Rice Krispies
    • 1 C light karo syrup
    • 1 C sugar
    • 1 C peanut butter
    • 6 oz. butterscotch chips
    • 6 oz. chocolate chips
    1. In a large pot, mix karo and sugar until it barely boils, mixing often.  Add peanut butter and stir until incorporated.
    2. Add Rice Krispies to pot and mix well.
    3. Spread in a pan with a rubber spatula.
    4. Place chips in microwaveable bowl and microwave 1 minute, stir.  Microwave an additional minute and stir again.  When they are melted, smear all over bars. Mmmmmm.

    Chocolate will set up as they cool, or you can put them in the refrigerator to set up faster.

    *recipe from

    Tomato canning recipes (2 recipes)

    Spaghetti sauce/marinara sauce – Made about 4-5 pints with this recipe, but it always seems to vary.  Good for just about anything: pasta, pizza, dipping sauce 🙂  

    • 10 lbs. tomatoes, cored, blanched, and skinned
    • 4 T. olive oil
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 T. grated onion, or finely minced
    • 1/2 tsp. red pepper
    • 1/4 c. red wine vinegar
    • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
    • 1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
    • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
    • 1/2 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
    • 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil (or 1 T. dried)
    • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley (or 1 T. dried)
    • 1 tsp. sugar (may need to adjust depending on tomatoes)
    • 2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
    1. First off, I like to squeeze out most of the seeds and juice by hand before blending the tomatoes.  If you’re using plum or roma tomatoes, you probably can skip this step.
    2. Next heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes and cook about a minute making sure not to burn the garlic.  Add in the blended tomatoes, which you’ll need to do in multiple batches in the blender.
    3. Then add the vinegar, tomato paste, and all seasonings.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer uncovered for an hour or until mixture is desired consistency.
    4. To can the sauce:  Be sure you’ve sterilized your jars and lids (I like to do my jars in the dishwasher while I’m preparing the sauce.)  It’s a good idea to add lemon juice to each jar before filling to make sure your sauce doesn’t go bad in storage (might add some extra sugar to compensate.)  Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Process in a water bath for 20 minutes.

    *adapted from


    Green Tomato Relish – Made about 5 4-ounce jars

    Just like pickle relish, but possibly even better!
    Just like pickle relish, but possibly even better!
    End-of-the-year green tomatoes - don't let them go to waste!
    End-of-the-year green tomatoes – don’t let them go to waste!
    • 4 c. green tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 small green pepper, chopped
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1.5 T. salt
    • 1 1/4 c. cider vinegar
    • 1 1/2 c. sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp. celery seed
    • 3/4 tsp. allspice
    • 2 tsp. dry mustard
    • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
    • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
    1. Place tomatoes, peppers, and onions in a bowl and sprinkle salt over.  Let sit 2-3 hours.  Drain well.
    2. Combine vinegar, sugar, and spices in a pot and simmer 10-15 minutes.
    3. Add vegetables and simmer 10-15 minutes longer.
    4. Bring to a boil and pack into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
    5. Process in water bath for 10 minutes.

    *adapted from

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