Tag Archives: tomatoes

Summer Pesto Pasta

Okay, so I have cooked just a wee little bit. This dish is a simple variation on our favorite summer pasta: PESTO.

Summer Pesto Pasta with Burst Tomatoes | Oysters & Pearls

I’ve posted the recipe for it before, but here it is again, for any newbies.  Simple, fresh pastas like this are my absolute favorite thing to cook in the summer.  Mainly because there aren’t any real measurements and I don’t have to think too much.

Light Summer Pesto Pasta Dish with Yellow Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes and Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese | Oysters & Pearls

Simple Summer Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken Recipe
serves 2 to 4


– half box of angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
– 2 to 3 chicken breasts, grilled and cut into bite-size pieces
– half a pint of cherry tomatoes

for the pesto
– 2 or 3 cups of fresh basil (any variety will do, but we prefer good ole sweet basil)
– 1/2 cup good olive oil
– a tablespoon or so (a hefty dash?) of good balsamic vinegar
– a tablespoon or so lemon juice
– 1/4 cup (ish) of pecans (can sub walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, etc.)
– 2 cloves (or more, or less) garlic, peeled
– salt & pepper to taste
– 1/4 cup grated Sweet Grass Dairy Thomasville Tomme cheese (or parmesan, or any other salty hard cheese)


Cook pasta according to package directions.

Place all the ingredients for the pesto, except the cheese, into a food processor and pulse until just combined.  Set aside.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and place cherry tomatoes in it without any oil.  Allow to blister and pop, then remove.

Toss pasta, pesto, chicken, and burst tomatoes together.  Using a microplane, plane cheese over the top.  garnish with a sprig of fresh basil and serve immediately.

Summer Pesto Pasta with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes and Thomasville Tomme Cheese | Oysters & PearlsI like to microplane the cheese over the top, rather than include it in the pesto, because when it’s microplaned is a) prettier, and b) melts really easily, and c) it’s curly and fun.  Plus, I find that the pesto has a better texture without it.  These little heirloom yellow cherry tomatoes are just divine.  Delicious, easy to grow, and so bright and colorful!  They add a whole ‘nother dimension to this pasta.

Fresh and Easy Pesto Pasta with Burst Heirloom Tomatoes and Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese | Oysters & Pearls

As you can tell, this type of pasta dish is my default dinner.  I always keep pasta in the pantry, we grow tons of basil every summer, and we keep hard cheeses in the fridge.  Add grilled chicken, shrimp, tomatoes, artichokes, whatever you can dream up/find in your kitchen.  I should rename this kitchen sink pesto pasta.

Until Next Time

Homemade Big Macs & Broccoli Slaw

Ya know how right before you do a lot of cooking for a big holiday, all you really want to eat or cook is really easy food?  Well, in the spirit of not making Thanksgiving food, I’m going to share with y’all what we ate this past week.

Last week I ran across this post on making homemade Big Macs over on Designer Bags and Dirty Diapers (Congratulations on the new baby, Natalie!) and our supper-fate was sealed.  I very, very rarely succumb to the temptation of fast food.  And before you say it, Zaxby’s isn’t “fast food.”  It’s “quick, casual dining.”  At least, that’s what former chicken-slinger Wheat tells me. ;)  But what could be so bad about a homemade Big Mac?

Homemade Big Macs  | Oysters & Pearls

Nothing.  Nothing at all.  They are delicious!  They are the anti-Thanksgiving food.

You can go the super easy route and use Thousand Island dressing as the Big Mac Special Sauce, or you can go all out and make it from “scratch.”  I chose the latter, naturally, and because I’m insane, I doubled the recipe.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me.  I swear I lived through the Great Depression in a former life because I always live in a state of fear that we might run out of food (hence my obsession with canning/pickling/jamming/jarring/freezing/makingfoodaheadoftime).  So of course, for a family of two, I would need to double the recipe for Big Mac Special Sauce.  Obvi.

I am a crazy person.

Homemade Big Mac Sauce | Oysters & Pearls Homemade Big Mac Sauce  | Oysters & Pearls

Big Mac Secret Sauce Recipe
via Designer Bags and Dirty Diapers


– 1/2  cup mayo (Duke’s, duh)
– 2 tablespoons French Dressing
– 4 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
– 1 tablespoon finely minced onion
– 1 teaspoon white vinegar
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Mix it up and top yo burgers.

And speaking of burgers…

Homemade Big Macs | Oysters & Pearls

Patty your ground beef very thinly.  Wheat cooked ours on a flat top griddle, but the grill would have been just fine.  Top with a slice of American cheese while hot, then layer pickles, lettuce, tomato and Special Sauce on a sesame seed bun.  SO GOOD.

Homemade Big Mac Toppings | Oysters & Pearls

Side note: I cannot eat a McDonald’s hamburger or make one at home without laughing.  When we were really young, my little sister (who was very, very little at the time) used to think that the minced onions at McD’s were rice.  She would stone-cold order her Happy Meal hamburger “with no rice.”  I can still remember the looks on the cashier’s faces!  My mom would always have to explain what she meant, and usually my sister would argue that it indeed was RICE on that burger.  And Heaven forbid they mess it up and give her rice on her hamburger.   Still cracks me up just thinking about it!  So, be sure to mince your onions up very finely until they look like rice.  Because I like my McDonald’s hamburgers to have rice on them. ;)

Frying Homemade Potato Chips | Oysters & PearlsWheat insisted on having some sort of fried potato with our Big Macs, and I don’t guess I can blame him.  It is the American way.

So I used my new Cuisinart food processor (<– affiliate link!) to do work on a few potatoes and Wheat got busy frying them.

Homemade Fried Potato Chips | Oysters & Pearls Homemade Potato Chips | Oysters & Pearls

While he worked the grease, I threw together a super quick Carolina broccoli slaw so that there would be some semblance of a balanced meal here.

Carolina Broccoli Slaw Recipe | Oysters & Pearls

Carolina Broccoli Slaw
dressing via southerfood.about.com


– 1 cup sugar
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2/3 cup vegetable oil
– 1 teaspoon dry mustard
– 1 teaspoon celery seed
– 1 cup cider vinegar
– 1 bag broccoli slaw
– 1/2 bag of shredded carrots


In a saucepan over medium heat, combine everything except the carrots and broccoli slaw and bring to a boil. Simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved; pour over vegetables and toss well. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.  You can use this dressing over any kind of slaw you’d like, and it’s awesome as a side or as a topper for a pulled pork sandwich.

Carolina Broccoli Slaw with Homemade Chips and Big Macs | Oysters & Pearls

We also had this slaw multiple times over the course of last week with BLTs.  It holds up really well since broccoli is pretty sturdy, which is great for quick week day meals.

BLT with Carolina Broccoli Slaw | Oysters & Pearls Carolina Broccoli Slaw | Oysters & Pearls

Homemade Potato Chips & Big Mac | Oysters & Pearls

And finally, beginning tonight I’ll be cooking up a storm and the craziness of the Holiday season will be upon us.  We will have friends staying with us, multiple holiday gatherings, and then making a trip to see my family on Saturday.  I can’t wait for it all to get started!  I’m making pumpkin and pecan pies, an experimental version of an eggnog pound cake (get ready, guinea pigs at my house tonight!), oyster dressing, and collard greens.

And to start a Thanksgiving debate: what will be on your table tomorrow?  “Stuffing” or “Dressing?”

Stuffing versus Dressing | Oysters & Pearls

Stuffing image from Kitchen Simplicity (http://kitchensimplicity.com/simplified-stuffing/) and Dressing image from Just A Pinch Recipes (http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/southern-style-cornbread-dressing.html)

I feel very passionately that Stuffing pales in comparison to Dressing, and that they are, in fact, two very different dishes, even if neither of them ever see the inside of a bird.  Many people claim it’s simply a difference in nomenclature, with it being called “stuffing” north of the Mason-Dixon and “dressing” below the line.  To me, “stuffing” involves hunks of bread and seasonings, while “dressing” is a much heavier dish made with crumbled cornbread (usually) that could masquerade as a casserole with a smoother texture.

And now that I’ve said “stuffing” a hundred times, it sounds super weird.  Like when you say “pajama” like 20 times and then it doesn’t even sound like a word anymore.  But that’s neither here nor there.

So, which is?  Stuffing or Dressing?  I’d love for you to weigh in on the debate about what will be on your plate!

And PS: head over to Aimee’s blog to see her Favorite Things and find out what she is adding to the Bloggers’ Favorite Things Giveaway!  Things are starting to get really exciting!

Happy Cooking!

Until Next Time

Fall Garden Update

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s been ages since I updated you on our little victory garden!  We started almost everything from plants this time (purchased last minute at Home Depot) back in early September.  A few things we did start ourselves from seed, and those seem to be doing the best, with the exception of our butter and red lettuces.  Anyway, let’s hop to the pictures.

Our purple flash pepper from Home Depot is doing pretty well, and adds some pretty purple color to the front raised bed.  It’s an ornamental pepper, and is edible, but we haven’t tasted it to determine if it’s delicious or not.  It’s just really pretty!

Purple Flash Pepper Plant | Oysters & Pearls

On the other corner of the front bed, we planted another pepper.  I can’t even remember what kind it was (also from Home Depot) but I’m just going to label it firmly within the Epic Pepper Fail variety.

Epic Pepper Fail | Oysters & Pearls

In this same front bed, we also have some cabbage that is absolutely nothing to write home about.

October Cabbage | Oysters & Pearls

But hey, at least it’s not dead or ridden with critters.

Also in this bed is our little corner of lettuce Heaven.

October Butter Lettuce | Oysters & Pearls

We have butter lettuce (above) and red lettuce (below).  Both are doing really well, and we are thoroughly enjoying our salads.

October Red Lettuce | Oysters & Pearls

In raised bed number two, we have a few tomato plants we started from seed what seems like AGES ago.


October Roma Tomato | Oysters & Pearls


October Cherry Tomatoes | Oysters & Pearls

And a brave little Cherokee Purple Tomato (yep, just the one):

October Cherokee Purple Tomato | Oysters & Pearls

It’s definitely no summer crop. :(  And I’m worried that a frost is going to get them before they ripen, so these may get fried as-is.

Also in Bed 2: very colorful bell peppers!  We have green, yellow (really more of a white), and PURPLE!  These are actually ones we started from seed back in the Spring that are really just now getting going.

October Yellow Bell Pepper | Oysters & Pearls October Purple Bell Pepper | Oysters & Pearls

Also in Bed 2 are our jalapeño peppers we planted from seed back in mid-Summer.  They are really started to take off this month.

October Jalapenos | Oysters & Pearls

And rounding out Bed 2 is our lovely crop of spinach.

October Spinach | Oysters & Pearls


Actually, we have been using Sevin Dust on them periodically, because something thinks our spinach is really, really tasty.  I wouldn’t know.  But a couple of the plants give me a glimmer of hope.

October Spinach |  Oysters & Pearls

In back Bed number 3, we have a steady crop of okra that we harvest daily!

Below are okra pods of varying stages of development on a single stalk.

Okra Pods At Various Stages of Development | Oysters & Pearls

Here’s one that’s just about to turn into an okra pod:

Okra Blossom Turning Into Okra Pod | Oysters & Pearls

The ants and other bugs LOVE the okra blossoms.  They must have some serious sweets inside.  I got to thinking this summer that the okra blossoms really looked like cotton blossoms, and they both looked a whole lot like hibiscus blooms.  After some thorough Wikipedia-ing, I discovered it’s because they’re all related!

Okra Blossom | Oysters & Pearls

Anyway, okra blooms are really, really pretty, and I love having them in the yard.  And then having okra.

Finishing up the raised beds, we have some very, very sad collard greens.  Looks like I’ll still be buying those this winter.

Very Sad October Collards | Oysters & Pearls

That’s it for the raised beds.  For more info on how we built ’em, {click here} and {here}.

We still pick a loner strawberry every now and then, too.  They are in pots, but maybe at some point they will get transplanted into the ground.  They berries never get very big though, so I’m not sure it’s worth it.

Tiny October Strawberry | Oysters & Pearls

And moving on over to the herb garden around the patio, I planted some Faulkenberry-Beaver wedding favor mint in the herb garden a couple evenings ago!

Wedding Favor Mint | Oysters & Pearls

The wedding favors were little burlap bags containing a tiny mint plant and a little bottle of Jim Beam, along with an adorable recipe for a pitcher of mint juleps.  It was precious!  I ended up with a couple of leftovers the wedding planner handed to me at the end of the night (we shutter down).  So I planted three in my little herb garden.  Hopefully we’ll be drinking lots of mint juleps and remembering what a good time we had at the Beaver’s wedding for a long time to come. :)

You’ll note the moss surrounding the plants.  This area is where the water ends up settling when it runs off our patio, so I figured it would be the perfect spot for water-loving mint.  Only time will tell, though.  I’m excellent at murdering mint, which is supposedly practically invincible.  I call it the Titanic of the herb garden.


How Do You Keep Cats Out Of Flower Beds? | Oysters & Pearls

Wallace seriously won’t leave a flower bed alone.  Sometimes he uses them as his litter box… sometimes he just rolls around and plays with stuff and a lot of the time he just lays in them, like he’s doing in this picture.  It’s so weird.  And annoying.  Any tips? Help!

Here’s a tip for you: wash your homegrown lettuce really well.  I recommend dumping all your freshly picked lettuce in the sink and washing it one leaf at a time, then drying in a salad spinner.  Because no matter how carefully you pick your lettuce, you still might bring one of these into your kitchen.

Snail Snuck In With The Lettuce | Oysters & Pearls

Yup, that bad boy crawled out of my sink from some lettuce I picked a couple nights ago.  Pretty sure this is where George Lucas got Jabba the Hutt (Jabadahut?) from.

I’ve been making a delicious salad with these greens (besides the Shrimp salad I posted about earlier this week.

Fresh homegrown lettuce (sans snail), homegrown bell pepper, and whatever other veggies we have in the house at the time, topped with Canned Sand Pears, shaved Thomasville Tomme from Sweet Grass Dairy, and Maggie’s honey mustard vinaigrette.

Homegrown Salad with Pears and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette | Oysters & Pearls

Another side note: Sweet Grass Dairy’s new online store just opened a few days ago!  Now you can order their cheese, condiments, and all sorts of local foodie treats online at The Larder.  I die over their homepage.

Anyway, Maggie’s honey mustard vinaigrette is delicious, and is the same one she used on her brussel sprout slaw we had a couple weeks ago.

Maggie’s Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Copied and pasted from thesmintzes.wordpress.com

1 tablespoon grainy dijon mustard
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt

Whisk ’em together.  Top things with it.  Delicious.

Fall Salad with Canned Sand Pears and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette | Oysters & Pearls

Sorry for that insanely long post!

If you’re a Bainbridge local, the Bainbridge Country Club is having a Fall Carnival tonight from 6:00-8:00 p.m.  It’s $10 for adults and $5 for kids (non-members) and I’d love to see you there!

Happy almost Friday!

And watch out for those snails.

Until Next Time