Simple. Perfect. Hands down the best blondies recipe. See for yourself.

1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
1 cup firmly packed (light or dark) brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 – 1 cup chopped walnuts (preferable toasted)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. If you are going to toast the walnuts then place them in a small pan and place in your oven for 10 minutes while it is preheating. Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, lightly grease an 8 x 8 square pan (this keeps the foil in place) then place aluminum foil in it making sure foil is tucked into the corners well, all smoothed out and there’s about 2-inches of overhang.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a small bowl, then set aside. Melt the butter in a medium pan remove from heat and stir the sugar in to melt it. Whisk the egg and vanilla in, then add the dry ingredients and mix only to incorporate, add the nuts and spread in the pan. Bake 30 minutes and remove to a rack to cool completely. Using the foil to lift, remove from pan, remove foil then cut into squares.

Pesto Lasagna

This is is an unusual, yet extremely delicious lasagna.  I served it with grilled garlic bread on the side and ham steaks.  Due to a pine nut allergy I make homemade pesto (very easy to do) and substitute walnuts.  I think it tastes better, but of course use whichever blend you prefer.

1 box lasagna noodle, cooked, drained & cooled

Pesto Ingredients (or buy a good quality jar of pesto)
4 cups loosely packed basil leaves

2 cups grated cheese of your choice:  Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Parmesan
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup walnuts
8 peeled garlic cloves
1 Tbsp. lemon juice (fresh is best)
2 tsp. kosher salt

4 heaping Tbsp. of the choice of grated cheese you are using for sprinkling on top before popping in the oven

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees; lightly grease a 9 x 13 or 9 x 9 pan.

Make the pesto:  put half of everything into a blender and process for 1 minute; add the other half and process another minute. Meanwhile, cook, drain & rinse the noodles.

Layer a 1/4 cup of pesto into the pan, then begin layering noodles, pesto, and keep going until the last layer is noodles.  Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for about 25 minutes, or until bubbly around the edges.  Let stand 15 minutes before you serve.


Spinach Pesto with Penne

I try to come up ways to use those baby spinach bags I buy from the produce section, and this worked out quite well. It’s a great way to get your spinach. You do need a food processor or blender for this.

3 cups fresh baby spinach, stems removed
2 cups fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 stick melted butter
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, crushed or 1 heaping tsp. minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 lb. penne pasta

In a food processor, combine the first 8 ingredients and process until smooth. Leave in processor and set aside.

Cook the pasta until desired taste. Drain, but reserve 1/3 cup of hot cooking water. Place pasta back into pot. Carefully blend the hot liquid into puree and then scrape out onto pasta. Mix & toss. Serve immediately.