Last month I started planting some lettuce and herbs around the outside of our house. I realize I don’t have much patience and would rather get trays of plants than start them from seed, because I seem to have forgotten what I planted in the trays. I think it was sweet and red rubin basil, but I’ll know for sure in a few weeks!

So far the lettuce has been untouched by insects and animals and the kale is taking a while to grow:

Mostly lettuce with cilantro up front, lemon grass, green onion & chives to the right and scrawny kale way in the back.

I also planted some easy-growing mint and sage in a planter by the patio, and this beautiful curry plant is doing great on its own:

The elegant curry plant: looks like rosemary, smells like chicken.

Now, both my parents were in the agriculture business, growing tomatoes and roses and a lot of other plants and produce. You would think that I inherited some of their talent, but I always found it a struggle to keep mint plants alive and can’t figure out why my basil won’t grow. This time it’s a little different, so I’m hoping my attempt at growing plants in the ground rather than black plastic buckets will break my streak of bad luck.

So while I wait for my plants to grow, I’d like to announce the winner of the Frito-Lay Gluten-Free Prize Pack! The winner was determined through an unbiased Canadian coin-toss. And now, the winner of this awesome giveaway is…..

Gabby from The Veggie Nook!

Congratulations on winning this awesome gluten-free prize pack! I’m sure you’ll enjoy munching on these tasty Tostitos and Lay’s chips while learning more about eating Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, woo hoo!

Now, earlier I mentioned those mystery seedlings possibly being basil plants (I really hope they are!) Here’s a good recipe to try with any type of basil pesto you may have. The walnuts (or pecans, if you prefer) give it a nice, hearty crunch and the addition of mushrooms give it a more meaty texture.

Walnut Pesto with Mushrooms – serves 2

1/3 cup walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted and broken into pieces
1/4 – 1/3 cup cream
1/2 cup basil pesto
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
additional walnuts or pecans for garnish
Cooked noodles

Instructions:

In a blender, add walnuts and  pesto, blend until combined and nuts are chopped, but do not puree.

In a medium frying pan, sautee sliced mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add pesto and walnuts, stir for about a minute. Slowly add cream and stir to combine for about 2 minutes or until it just begins to simmer.

Serve over cooked noodles, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and extra walnuts or pecans.

Advertisements

This recipe is a piece of cake, but your guests won't have to know. A single slice in a pool of maple syrup--simple, elegant, delicious!

I originally came across this recipe a while ago in my search for wheat-free apple cake recipes. It won’t take any more time to make than a regular batch of muffins or chocolate chip cookies, so it’s really pretty easy. I made a few minor adjustments to my taste, but essentially it’s the same recipe.

This wheat-free cake is perfect for a Sunday brunch, with your morning coffee, or afternoon tea. Shredded apples keep it moist, while a toasted topping of pecans and maple syrup add sweetness and crunch. Convert these to cupcakes for a portable breakfast or healthy snack on-the-go.

Apple Spice Cake

1 cup spelt flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (reduce by half for table salt)
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 cups grated apples, with about 1/3 cup juice squeezed out (drink it, it’s delicious!)
1/3 cup vanilla soy milk (or equal amount of juice squeezed from grated apples)
1/4 cup chopped dates (optional)
1/4 cup chopped and toasted pecans or walnuts
maple or amber agave syrup

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ pan or 8″ square cake pan. If making cupcakes, line 12 baking tins with paper or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Stir in shredded apples and dates until well distributed. Add 1/3 of dry ingredients, mix well by hand. Add remaining dry ingredients, making sure to incorporate dry ingredients without over mixing.

Pour batter into pan, bake on middle rack in oven for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. If making cupcakes, bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

While cake is baking, toast pecans or walnuts on cookie sheet on top rack of oven for 10 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from oven, cool until easy to handle then chop. Set aside.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes on wire rack. Invert cake onto plate, then flip over again onto serving plate (so top side faces up.) Before serving, garnish with toasted nuts and drizzle with maple or agave syrup. Cake serves 6-8.

You'll go nuts over this moist apple cake that's spiced just right!