31 July 2015

Presto, Pesto!

Every spring, I plant basil. Every summer, I run about like a mad woman trying to use up all the basil that's suddenly overwhelming my garden. But not this summer. No. I've finally done the thing I always say I should do. Namely, I've made and frozen pesto. Hurrah. Summery pesto goodness shall be mine in the dark, bleak heart of winter.

About half the basil in the garden.

Of course, I couldn't just use an ice cube tray like many of the pesto-freezing people on Pinterest. No, I had to go and buy one of the fancy-pants Ball® Frozen Herb Starters, which are essentially a pair of summer-green, BPA-free, flexible silicone trays with snap-on lids. I first saw it at Agway when I stopped by for canning jars and pickling salt, but I ended up buying mine from Amazon because it cost less. (The exact opposite was true of the canning jars and pickling salt, by the way).

Toasted walnuts, not pine nuts, because that's how I roll.

I followed Ball's "Perfect Pesto" recipe, using the walnut option instead of pine nuts as I thought walnuts would taste more awesome. The whole process -- from fending off emotionally needy cats whilst harvesting the basil to plopping spoonfuls of pesto in the silicone tray -- couldn't have taken more than 20 minutes. I had a little leftover basil, because my "gently packed" cups of basil were probably not as gently packed as the recipe writers intended, which I spread over the salmon fillet I'd intended to bake for dinner. The pesto -- bright and summery -- paired well with the salmon and I'll be trying that combination again.

Beautiful pesto salmon.

One recipe made one tray of cubes -- that's nine cubes, each probably twice the size of a regular ice cube. The kit comes with two trays and lids, so I still have a tray to play with while the pesto freezes. Since I have a lot of chives on hand, I'm thinking chives in olive oil? Or chives in butter? Or both? Once the pesto tray frozen, I intend to decant the cubes into another container, freeing up the tray for other uses.

Neat little rows of basiliciousness.

29 July 2015

Cool as a Cucumber

Cucumber citrus cooler! Yes, I juiced a pound of cucumbers! Basically, I didn't have enough cucumbers left for either of the pickle recipes still on my list and was looking for a creative way to use the last pound up. I read through few recipes for cucumber aqua fresca I'd found on Pinterest and then pretty much did my own thing.

Cucumber Citrus Cooler

Yield: 4


  • 1 lb pickling (kirby) cucumbers, peeled and chopped
  • 4 lemons, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 cups cold filtered water
  • ¼ cup sugar, more or less to taste


  1. Puree cucumbers in food processor or blender until they resemble a green slushie.
  2. Pour puree into a fine-mesh sieve suspended over a large bowl and let sit for 15 minutes or so while the juices drain out into the bowl beneath.
  3. Discard pulp.
  4. Combine cucumber, lemon, lime juices and water in a pitcher. Add sugar, stirring briskly until dissolved.
  5. Fill tumblers with crushed ice and top with cooler. Add a curl of lime juice to each glass for garnish, if you're feeling fancy.

This cooler is pucker-up tart when its fresh, but mellows quite nicely if left alone in the refrigerator overnight -- the cucumber really comes to the front and you end up with a bright, refreshing drink that even The Husband admits is pretty tasty. If you want to turn it into an adult beverage, just add a generous splash of tequila to each glass.

27 July 2015

Product Review: Centrum MultiGummies Multivitamins #Smiley360

I was completely chuffed to be selected last month by Smiley360 to try the Centrum® MultiGummies in return for a fair and unbiased review. We're a household that prefers gummies to tablets and, as I have taken other Centrum® products in the past and been satisfied with them, I had high expectations for the product. That the Centrum® MultiGummies also contain no artificial flavors or sweeteners and have %s of Daily Value on par with the brand I usually purchase was also welcome news. (And, oh my, these fruit-shaped vitamins are so cute!!!).

The cutest adult vitamin gummies I've ever seen.

Alas ... it turns out no-one in my household enjoys taking the Centrum® MultiGummies. We find the MultiGummies quite rubbery and there's a funky aftertaste to the cherry and the orange MultiGummies -- especially the orange, which seems bitter. I switched The Husband back to our usual brand after the first day, because I don't hate him, and switched myself back after five. I reckoned I'd given the MultiGummies a fair shake and the experiences wasn't getting better. I really feel I should not grimace while taking my daily multivitamin. It's just not nice way to start the day.

Overall, a disappointing experience. I've bought Centrum® products in the past -- although obviously not the MultiGummies -- and expected better. While I cannot recommend the product, there's a $2 coupon linked here for anyone that thinks I'm just a weird outlier who doesn't know a tasty orange gummy vitamin when she chews one. Seriously, many other Smiley community members participating in this campaign sincerely liked these vitamins. As with so much in life: YMMV.

Why do you taste so yucky? Whyyyy?