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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Pesto Tomato Pizza and White Bean Dip

I have yet again another new cookbook.  And, I've not even finished reading the ones I bought a couple of weeks ago.  The new one is courtesy of Jolene Ketzenberger.  She's the owner and editor of and used to be the food writer at our local paper.  In years gone by, she did a Christmas cookie contest.  Like most things fun, the Star has discontinued that.  Just another reason I prefer the New York Times these days!  At any rate, Jolene's hubby John persuaded her to put together a last minute cookie contest at a local Brewery.  It's called Bent Rail.  The noise in there was deafening.  But, the food was incredible.  We'll head that way for dinner and make sure we get there and are gone by the time the band starts!!!  Let me note here... I am NOT a baker.  Used to bake 4,000 cookies and deliver plates of them to all of my clients.  No more.  I really avoid baking.  But, because Jolene wanted to do the contest, I entered.  Whiskey shortbread cookies.  They were good but not fabulous.  Nothing I'll make again.  But, since everyone who entered got to choose a cookbook, I was a happy camper.  That and I got to talk with some other foodies.  Carolyn, this is directed at you - time to start your own blog!  Seriously Simple Holidays is the cookbook I chose.  Can't wait to dig into this one.  Just in time for the holidays too.  Chicken paillards with cranberry port sauce.  Doesn't that sound amazing?  I know there will be a dozen recipes that we'll love.

So, back to the other new cookbooks I bought.  I had to go to the Christmas Tree Shop for bows for the window boxes.  Stop.  I wanted to go.  Needs versus wants.  I'm constantly reminding my clients of the difference...  Bows on window boxes are a want.  So are new cookbooks.  Or, in my case an obsession.  One that Connie happily tolerates because he gets lots of fun food.  The first cookbook I read was Small Plates by Williams Sonoma.  They actually have a lot of very good cookbooks.  This is my 5th or 6th and I've enjoyed all of them.  In addition to a recipe for scallops over a salsa of avocado and mango that's on the menu for New Years Eve, I had my eye on a pesto, tomato and mozzarella pizza.  In the fall we always turn the last of the basil into pesto.  Then, before the cheese is added in, it's frozen.  So, I have about a dozen 1/2 cup containers of frozen almost pesto.  Makes us think of summer when we eat it.  I wanted a meal that was quick, quick, quick.  We'd spent most of Sunday at the office.  Something about our admin being out thanks to her knee being replaced.  But, you've heard that story.  We're still doing double duty.  And, I had cookies to bake.  And, and, and.  Just not a lot of time to cook.  I'd had Connie buy a Boboli crust at the grocery so I was ready.  And, it was the perfect evening.  Nuke the pesto to thaw it.  Stir in some grated parmesan romano.  Schmear it on the crust.  Cut grape tomatoes in half and cover the pesto.  Thinly slice the fresh mozzarella and layer it over the top.  Bake at 450 for 15 minutes and we were good to go.

What did we think?  There almost weren't leftovers.  This was amazing.  My prep time was about 10 minutes.  Cooking time was 15.  And, we had a dinner that tasted much fancier than that.  Here's what the process looks like:

Our second recipe from the cookbook was equally successful.  White bean dip.  It's similar to ones we've made before but with bits of crunchy sage and prosciutto, it's just a step ahead of the generic white bean dip...

White Bean Dip


2 T olive oil
1 oz prosciutto (I used two ounces,) finely diced
6 fresh sage leaves, finely minced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 15 1/2 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 shallot, finely minced
2 t lemon juice
salt and pepper


Heat 1 t of the olive oil to shimmering in a small skillet.  Add the prosciutto, sage, shallot and garlic.  Saute until the prosciutto and sage are a bit crispy.  In a food processor, whir the beans with the other tablespoon of olive oil and the lemon juice.  Pour the beans into a small bowl and add the sautéed ingredients.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with thinly sliced baguette, pita chips or crackers.

Adapted from Williams Sonoma Small Plates

As I type this it's Christmas Eve Eve.  Last weekend our oldest son David, his wife Kara and our grandkids, Bradley and Rosie came over to visit.  We started with Mary Poppins at Civic Theatre.  They totally hit it out of the park with that show.  I have to give kudos to a long-time friend of mine, Don Knebel, for what he's doing there.  After a long career as an attorney, he retired to spend time working with the Institute for Civic Literacy at IUPUI.  But, Civic came calling and he answered the call.  This show was so well done.  I've been singing Let's Go Fly a Kite all week!!!  Here's Rosie meeting Mary Poppins:

After Mary Poppins we headed home for ham, mac and cheese and an autumn salad with apples, sugared almonds and blue cheese.  Dessert was a decadent ice cream pie.  With bacon caramel sauce, Heath bars and honey roasted peanuts.  Makes my teeth ache just thinking about it.  But, it was fabulous!
Then, we opened presents.  The hit of the year was toolboxes.  We were a bit hesitant to get the kids their own tool boxes but I do believe Mama has a grand idea.  She's going to go to Lowe's and get some lumber and set it up in the garage so they can practice.  Here's Bradley showing his off and Grampy showing Rosie how everything works:


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