Nut-Free & Dairy-Free (but not Taste-Free) Pesto

Photo Courtesy of Yannic Meyer on Flickr

Nut-Free & Dairy-Free (but not Taste-Free) Pesto
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Sauces
Cuisine: Italian
  • 4 c. basil, stems removed
  • ¼ c. sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin butter (heaping)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • ½ tps lemon pepper
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  1. Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor & blend well.
  2. If you need to thin out the sauce, add more extra virgin olive oil.
  3. To really make this an allergen-free dish, serve over cooked rice pasta.


Quadruple Chocolate Spicy Cookies

If you like chocolate & you like cookies, this is for you! Get ready to wear your favorite pajamas because when you try these chocolaty & spicy cookies, you’ll be ready to sleep the day away in heaven. It’s a simple addition to almost any chocolate chip cookie recipe that can take them to the next level. It’s time to turn a boring chocolate chip cookie into a quadruple chocolate chip cookie with a spicy kick.

These cookies are amazing & something different that everyone will love. I like to serve them with blueberry pie & ice cream or even by themselves. Because they are dry, you can pair them with almost anything that is moist or wet like ice cream or cakes.

Quadruple Chocolate Spicy Cookies
Recipe type: Dessert
  • Your favorite cookie recipe
  • 1 tsp Hershey's Cocoa Powder
  • ⅓ lb dark chocolate chips
  • ⅓ lb white chocolate chips
  • ⅓ lb milk chocolate chips
  • Ancho Chili powder
  • Light brown sugar
  1. Take your favorite cookie recipe & substitute the light brown sugar for the dark brown sugar
  2. Put all of the ingredients from the cookie recipe into a bowl & before you mix, add a heaping tablespoon of Hershey's Dark Chocolate cocoa powder
  3. Buy 3 1lb bags of different chocolate chips & add ⅓ of each bag to the mix
  4. Take the Ancho chili powder & hit it 8 times for some spice or 16 times for a real kick. The extra powders help make the cookie dry so the spice from the Ancho chili powder is able to come out after the chocolate taste is gone.


The Benefits of Igniting a Passion for Great Food

Submitted by Lisa Williams

There are precious few things we all have in common and food is one of them. After all, we all have to eat, don’t we? Everyone has a passion for different foods, which could be anything from a delicious summer fruits bread pudding to a good old BLT.

However, while it makes sense to look at food as a source of energy and a necessity, there is much more to it than that. Plenty of people cite cooking as a hobby and a way of relaxing. Indeed, it is also good if you are on a budget or you want to save money. Home cooking is cheaper than eating out, a fact proven by all kinds of different surveys.

Are there other benefits to getting passionate about food too? Let’s find out. You might be surprised what you find.

You can enjoy cooking as a shared experience

stewed tomatoesPlenty of people in their forties or older will have fond memories of cooking with their parents when they were young. In fact, if you think back to your best memories of your youth, the chances are many of them could be related to food in some way. It could be family picnics, a relaxed BBQ with friends or maybe just learning how to make cakes with your mom.

Times may have changed, but there is still plenty of evidence to show that home cooking is one of the best activities families can get involved in together. It’s not just about the food or the cooking either – it’s about a shared experience, and educating kids about the importance of home cooked and healthy food.

It can help you conquer your inner demons

A good chunk of people think of cooking as a hobby rather than a chore. We saw above that it can be a great family activity too, and a very positive one at that. However cooking has a lot more to offer than simply providing you with the skills to produce a good home cooked meal. It can also provide you with a pastime you can use to improve your health – both physically and mentally. A healthy diet is great for all round good health, no matter whether you need to lose weight or not. A hobby is highly recommended for those people who are struggling with problems in their lives, such as an addiction of some kind for example. While it is always a good idea to get professional help from rehab centers including it is also a good idea to develop a hobby that will have a positive knock-on effect in many areas in your life. It takes the focus away from trying to conquer those demons, and also gives you a skill you could use to improve your health in other ways.

Duck Meat LegsIt helps you discover new foods and flavors you may never have tried before

We all tend to be a little conservative when it comes to food. We have our favorite dishes and tastes and we stick to them. However, as soon as you view cooking as a hobby instead of a drag, you’ll be inspired to try new things and experiment a little more with different ingredients. Just one or two cookbooks and a determination to throw things together to see if they work are all you need to do to get the results you want.

This holds true regardless of whether you live alone or you have a family. Sure it’s nice to have some people around you to test new dishes out on, but even if you’re single you could invite a few friends round to be guinea pigs. This is the power of great food – it brings people together and creates a lot of positive feeling. If it inspires passion in you, you could find it changes your life in more ways than one. Whether you’re fighting an addiction, trying to get your kids to learn how to cook or you’re simply in search of a better diet, a love of cooking will help you achieve all these things and many more besides.

Why not dive into the pleasure of ingredients, recipes and cooking inspiration today and see what you can achieve when you do?

Preserved Lemons

Homemade preserved lemons make wonderful gifts, so we suggest that you check out the wide variety of useful & decorative glass storage jars available from Wares of Knutford.

Preserved Lemons
Recipe type: Condiments
  • Lemons
  • Lemon Juicce
  • Kosher Salt
  • Colander
  • Deep pot with lids
  • Canning mat
  • Quart preserving jars
  • Dishtowels
  • Canning towels
  • Lids
  • Canning tongs
  • Rings
  • Platter
  1. Wash your lemons thoroughly & set them in a colander in the sink to drain. You will need 8-10 lemons for each 1 quart canning jar that you use.
  2. Place your canning mat in the bottom of a deep pot. If you don’t have a canning mat, line the bottom of the pot with a clean cloth dishtowel. This will keep the jars from bumping against each other when you sterilize them.
  3. Stand the quart jars in the pot with their open ends facing up.
  4. Fill the pot with water so that the jars are completely covered. Bring the water to a boil. Lower it to a rolling simmer & cover the pot. Let the jars sterilize for 10 minutes without disturbing them.
  5. Lay a folded dishtowel on the counter. Remove the jars from the water with your canning tongs & place them on the towel, open side up. Never put hot jars directly onto a cool surface like a bare counter because they may shatter.
  6. Drop the lids and rings into the boiling water & turn off the heat.
  7. Slice both ends off of each lemon & cut the lemons into 4-6 wedges each.
  8. Lay the wedges out on a platter or a length of waxed paper & lightly salt them with the Kosher salt.
  9. Fill the bottom of the jars, once they have cooled enough to touch, with ½ c. Kosher salt.
  10. Fish the lids & rings out of the hot water with the canning tongs & set them on the dishtowel with the jars to cool.
  11. Squeeze each lemon wedge gently as you pack them snugly into the jars.
  12. Fill the jars with lemon juice so that the lemons are just covered. Sprinkle another layer of salt on top.
  13. Wipe any excess salt or lemon juice off of the mouths of the jars with a clean dishtowel. Seal the jars with the sterilized lids & rings.
  14. Let the jars sit at room temperature for 24 hours & then turn them upside down. Let them sit for another 24 hours, then turn them right-side up & place them in the refrigerator.
  15. Leave the jars in the refrigerator for three weeks, occasionally turning them upside down for a day or two.
  16. To use the lemons, pick one out & wash off all of the salt. Discard the seeds & pulp & grate or finely chop the lemon rind.
  17. Add visual interest as well as flavor by adding mint sprigs, rosemary, sage, thyme, peppercorns, whole cloves, whole coriander seeds, or cinnamon sticks to your preserved lemons when you pack them into the jars. Experiment by adding different combinations of herbs & spices.


Summer Fruits Bread Pudding

A great summer recipe to satisfy your sweet tooth on a hot summer day!

Summer Fruits Bread Pudding
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 loaf unsliced bread
  • 2 c. strawberries
  • 2 c. blackberries
  • 2 c. plums
  • 2 c. blueberries
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ - ½ c. sugar
  • 2 tbsp orange, raspberry, or almond liqueur (optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to its lowest setting, no higher than 200°F.
  2. Slice your bread thickly. You can use white bread, challah, cinnamon bread, Hawaiian bread, brioche or any bread other than aggressively savory types such as sourdough, rye or whole wheat.
  3. Lay your bread slices out on a baking sheet. You may need more than one baking sheet. Place the bread in the oven & let it sit for 20 minutes. Turn the slices over & let the bread sit for another 20 minutes. This dries out the bread, allowing it to soak up the fruit juices without becoming soggy. You can also lay the bread out on sheets & let it sit on the counter overnight to air dry.
  4. While the bread is drying, wash all of your fruit & drain it well.
  5. Pull the tops off the strawberries. Slice the strawberries thickly.
  6. Slice the plums & discard the pits.
  7. Place the strawberries, plums & blueberries into a large saucepan. Add the orange, raspberry or almond liqueur for a richer dessert, if you like. Gently stir in the sugar & cinnamon. Heat the mixture to a simmer & let it cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in the raspberries & remove the fruit from the heat.
  9. Cut the crusts off the bread.
  10. Line your casserole dish with cling wrap, making sure that at least 2″ overhangs the edge. You may need to lay one sheet across the width & one across the length.
  11. Press half of the ‘crustless’ bread slices into the bottom of the casserole dish. Arrange them with the edges overlapping so that they make a complete crust.
  12. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the fruit out of its bowl & into the casserole dish on top of the bread. Keep the leftover juices, because you’ll use them later.
  13. Arrange the other half of the bread loaf on top of the fruit. Press it down firmly.
  14. Cover the bread completely with cling wrap. Place a plate that fits just inside of the casseroles dish on top of the cling wrap. Weight it down with two or three small cans of soup or a large can of tomatoes. Refrigerate the pudding for 8 hours or overnight.
  15. Take the pudding out of the refrigerator & remove the cans and cling wrap. Turn the pudding out onto a serving plate & remove the cling wrap. Pour the reserved juices over the pudding & sprinkle just enough sugar on top to lightly coat it.
  16. Cut the pudding into wedges & serve it with whipped cream & fresh mint for a garnish.