My Favorite Things – Zilk’s Basil Pesto and Pimento Cheese

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Like many of you, I visit three food stores to complete my entire shopping list.  Here in Dallas, Tom Thumb is my primary go-to store.  Paper towels, ziploc bags, chicken broth, the standard stuff.  I use their app for discounts, I know which store brand products I like and I can be in and out of the store pretty fast.  The second store I shop at is Central Market.  Here I buy certain items that I cannot get at Tom Thumb.  They have an awesome marinated chicken at their meat counter, amazing italian meatballs with veal and they carry some of the foods I used to buy in the Northeast.  Whole Foods is the third. Of course I love all of their fish, meats and product but there are two or three items that I only buy at Whole Foods.   The first is Basil Pesto and the second is Pimento Cheese.

Zilks Foods is a small artisan producer in Austin;  both items are available in Dallas stores and are packaged by Whole Foods – sometimes the pesto is available on the self serve bar with the olives, other times it is with the other pestos and cheeses.  Both are absolutely fantastic and come in a variety of flavors(think hatch chile!)
Zilk’s Basil Pesto:

  • mix with cream and Parmesan to make a pesto sauce for pasta.  Add chicken and diced tomato for a great meal
  • add to a turkey or chicken sandwich with or without mayo
  • Serve over grilled chicken or fish
  • Add to a tomato and mozzarella salad

Zilk’s Pimento Cheese:

  • Use instead of sliced cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich and serve with tomato soup
  • The best topping for a fabulous cracker
  • Use on a hot roast beef sandwich

Any other recipe suggestions?


The Final Rainbow Dinner of 2014

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Now that we have completed 8 successful weeks of Rainbow dinners, I decided change things up before the holidays to see how successful I was in introducing new foods. Rather than having my daughter choose colors, I asked her to choose the main ingredient for dinner.  I made one request  – no pasta.

She chose shrimp. Yes, SHRIMP. The one food that she would not eat for over 3 years. The one food that my husband and I love and has been missing from my kitchen for years. SHRIMP. I smiled.

For the last dinner, I chose green and white for the two other colors. I sauteed up the shrimp with salt, pepper, a little garlic and some ginger. I used bok choy and broccoli for green and then mushrooms for my white.  For me and my husband, I added a great stir fry sauce from Central Market.


I am proud to report that not only did she eat all of her shrimp and ask for more, but she ate all the broccoli and tried the mushrooms and the bok choy. There was no fighting at the table about taking a “no-thank you” bite.  Her dessert was a special black and white cookie from the local deli near our house.

I guess it is time to come up with another creative game for dinner starting next year….or do I even need one?

Mission Impossible? Rainbow Dinner

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I wanted to find a way for my daughter to try more foods.  Dinner had to be more fun.  The no-thank you bite worked well for a while but now at five, she announced she had already tried everything.  So, I offered the following to my five year old daughter.

Every Monday night, we will do Rainbow Dinner. She gets to pick three colors from the rainbow and I have to make a dinner that has those colors. The catch – she must eat everything. No excuses.

For the first dinner, I should have known that she would choose the three hardest colors. Green, NO. Red, NO. Yellow, NO.  My daughter chose pink, purple and blue.  So now I am thinking, I am crazy.  This is going to take more time and effort than I thought.  Great job Mom – you really thought this one through.  

Create a dinner with pink, purple and blue – Hmm. Well, pink was not too hard. Beets(more dark pink than red), pink lemonade for a drink(is that cheating?), a cream sauce made from marinara(I think that is more orange). Shrimp – scratch that, she doesn’t like shrimp. Maybe not so easy. Purple – got it. Eggplant, or even better, purple cauliflower. She has never tried that before.  Note to self – I must make a trip to Whole Foods or Central Market for that one. Blue – what vegetable is blue? What meat is blue? What fish is blue? Blueberries – but how do I make that part of dinner? Fruit salad?

Thank you to Pinterest for allowing me to search rainbow foods, rainbow dinner, rainbow recipes.  And off to the food store I went.


Fresh pasta-check.  Food coloring – check.  Purple cauliflower – check.  Chicken for her – check.  Shrimp for me and the husband – check. (Must have some meat or fish, right?) Sauce-check.  Some brilliant person figured out that you can use food coloring on PASTA.  It looks really cool but I will admit, my fingers are still a shade of purple from the pink and blue combining on my hands.  It was a VERY time consuming dinner to have to steam the cauliflower, cook the pasta(although the fresh pasta did save time), make individual bags of food coloring to dye the pasta, rinse the pasta, use another pan to cook the shrimp and chicken(Yes – my Rachel Ray pan) and then make the sauce.  Then I had to put it all together.

The end result:
Pink, Purple and Blue Rainbow Pasta with Purple Cauliflower and Grilled Chicken. My daughter’s huge smile showed her excitement and she ate the entire meal(I knew the  pasta would be a hit but she ate all of the purple cauliflower – YEAH!).  She even picked her colors for next week and wow, was I happy to hear them – red, orange and yellow.  (sigh of relief!)

photo 2_a

Mission Accomplished!!