Pimiento Cheese and Pimiento Cheeseburgers with Fried Eggs & Onion

Inspiration: Ever since we visited my brother and sister-in-law in North Carolina last October and had a relatively Southern-esque burger topped with a fried egg and fried green tomatoes, Brandon has been really into eating burgers with fried eggs. Since green tomatoes aren’t in season right now, I thought I’d throw in a different Southern ingredient instead – pimiento cheese!

What we Loved: This is our first experience with pimiento cheese, and we both really enjoyed it. The peppers have a slightly sweet and spicy flavor, and the cheese itself is sharp and creamy. When melted, it transforms from a thicker consistency of a dip to ooey, gooey deliciousness. That melty texture was definitely my favorite thing about this cheese. And when added to a burger and topped with a fried egg (with a slightly undercooked, creamy yolk) and a thick slice of browned sweet onion, well, how can that not be good? What a fantastic and rich combination of flavors.

Helpful Hints: I’m sure that pimiento cheese would be great in any number of recipes. We enjoyed the leftovers sandwiched in an omelet. Delicious!

Pimiento Cheese
Source: Sidewalk Shoes

I cut the recipe in half. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/8 cup mayonnaise
1 oz cream cheese
Kosher salt and cayenne pepper to taste
1 oz pimientos, sliced

1. Place the cheddar, mayonnaise, cream cheese, and a sprinkle of salt and cayenne in a food processor. Puree until smooth.

2. Add the pimientos, and pulse a few times to finely chop and incorporate.

Pimiento Cheeseburger with Fried Egg and Onion
Source: Original Recipe to serve 2

Ground beef, as much as desired to form two patties
Garlic powder
Seasoning salt
1/3 cup pimiento cheese, using more or less to taste
2 eggs
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 thick slices onion
 
1. Form the beef into two patties. Sprinkle some garlic powder and just a bit of seasoning salt in a saute pan. Add the burgers and the onion slices, and turn the heat to medium. When the burgers begin to sizzle, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes. Flip both the burgers and the onion slices, cover, and cook for 3-4 minutes more. Add the cheese to the burgers, cover, and cook for an additional minute to melt the cheese.
 
2. While the burgers are cooking, add a drizzle of olive oil to a second saute pan, and fry the eggs. Sprinkle to taste with Kosher salt and black pepper.
  
3. Plate the burgers topped with the fried eggs and onion slices.
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Toasted Pumpkin Seed Guacamole

Inspiration: Cuban picadillo is one of the few meals that I make relatively often for supper, and I love to serve it with avocado slices. With the last remnants of a bag of tortilla chips and a bag of pumpkin seeds in the pantry, though, this guacamole recipe was the perfect accompaniment. We could eat guacamole (and any Mexican food) every.single.day.

What we Loved: OK. Considering that this is a Rick Bayless recipe, I should have expected it to be awesome. And I did. But. This was really the best thing that has come out of my kitchen in a long time. I tend to like almost everything, love a lot of things, and then really love some things, and this recipe was one of the latter. When I tested the first bite to check for the salt level, I had to restrain myself from eating the whole bowl right then and there. What’s so great about this guacamole is that it’s the absolute creamiest, thickest, richest guacamole that I’ve ever had. It’s basically like a combination of a really rich nut butter and a wonderfully creamy avocado spread. With the additional flavor of fresh cilantro and just a tiny kick of heat from serrano peppers, I can’t imagine anything that would make this recipe better. It’s not a traditional guacamole (check out my all-time favorite guacamole recipe for that), but if you’re looking for something a little bit different, I really can’t recommend this one enough. I rave about most things on my blog, because I never post anything that I don’t really like, but this one is really one of those recipes that’s heads and tails above the rest.

Helpful Hints: Make a double batch? Also, I’ve found that organic avocados are really worth purchasing, especially for guacamole. They seem so much creamier and more delicious!

Toasted Pumpkin Seed Guacamole
Source: Rick Bayless

3 avocados
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 – 1 serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
Juice from 1/2 small lime
3/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt

1. Place the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan over low heat. When the pumpkin seeds start to pop, mix them with a spoon until they are golden and toasted. Place the pumpkin seeds in a food processor until finely ground. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then run the processor until the seeds are the consistency of a chunky paste.

2. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the avocado into a bowl. Mash the avocado with a fork or potato masher.

3. Add the onion, serrano, cilantro, and pumpkin seed mixture to the avocado. Mix well to combine, and then mix in the lime juice.

4. Season to taste with salt, and garnish with additonal cilantro and pumpkin seeds.

Cilantro and Sunflower Seed Pesto

Inspiration: 1) We ended up with a big bag of cilantro in the crisper with no use for it. 2) We’ve been sitting on some random sunflower seeds in the pantry. 3) I’ve been obsessed with smoked paprika lately, so I’ve been throwing it into everything. 4) It was taco night, but we didn’t have any salsa.

What we Loved: I was a little skeptical of this pesto as I was making it, but boy was it good! The predominant flavors were the nutty, buttery flavors from the sunflower seeds, almost making this like a nut butter/pesto combo. Really great and unexpected! There were also some rich, smoky undertones from the smoked paprika that we really loved. I served this with some standard beef tacos, and it was a surprisingly great topping that complemented the taco flavors of beef, cheddar, and vegetables so well. I may have to whip this up every taco night!

Helpful Hints: I didn’t measure as I was making this, so the ingredients below are an estimate. It’s probably best to taste as you go, adding more sunflower seeds and smoked paprika if necessary.

Cilantro and Sunflower Seed Pesto
Source: Adapted from Just Making Noise

1 large bunch cilantro leaves (about 2 cups, loosely packed)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Pinch Kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Place the cilantro, sunflower seeds, garlic, paprika, and pinch of salt in a food processor. Process until everything is finely chopped, and then stop to scrape down the sides.  Continue processing, adding olive oil as necessary until the mixture forms a smooth paste.

Chipotle Salsa

Chipotle Salsa

Inspiration: What’s your favorite garnish for grilled steak? Honestly, my favorite way to eat a good steak is completely plain, but sometimes I like to hunt around for other ingredients that compliment a steak well. I fell in love with this chipotle salsa when I made it once before, and it seemed like a great way to give a steak a bit of a Mexican twist.

What we Loved: To me, it seems like there are two general types of salsas – those that are bright with fresh vegetable flavors, and those that are rich and spicy. This salsa is so great because it combines the best of both worlds. It’s so crisp and fresh from all of the cold vegetables, but then the chipotles add a really smoky bite. I love it because it’s just spicy enough to have a little kick while still allowing you to taste all of the great vegetable flavors.

Helpful Hints: Since chipotles are very spicy, it’s best to add a small amount at first, and then taste test. You can always add more if it’s not spicy enough! And a great thing about this salsa is that it can be processed however you like, from very roughly chopped to a smooth puree. I like to make it somewhere in the middle.

Chipotle Salsa
Source:  Emeril Lagasse

I scaled the original recipe down to make a much smaller amount, and I also made some further changes. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

2 roma tomatoes, seeded
1/2 small onion
1 clove garlic
Juice from 1 small lime
1/2 tablespoon chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
Handful cilantro
Kosher salt

1. Combine the tomatoes, onions, garlic, lime juice, chipotle pepper, and cilantro in a food processor.  Pulse until the salsa reaches the desired consistency.

2. Season to taste with salt. After tasting, add more chipotles if desired.

3. Serve chilled.

Romesco Sauce

Inspiration: I can and do eat pesto on everything. It’s not often that I don’t have a supply of it stashed away in the freezer for that random stuffed chicken breast or vegetable toss. But you know what? My basic sauce-that-I-can-throw-on-anything répertoire doesn’t go much further than that. How sad! I saw a post on bitchincamero about the under-use of romesco some time ago, and I’ve been meaning to try it ever since. The pesto in my freezer now has some company!

What we Loved: I was attracted to this particular romesco sauce because it doesn’t use bread in the ingredients, which many romesco sauces do. Being a low carb eater, that wouldn’t work for me! So being bread-free was the first plus for this recipe in my book. And as for the actual taste of the sauce, it couldn’t have been better! Melissa at bitchincamero calls it bold, and I can’t think of a better word. It’s super intense, with all kinds of punchy flavor from the red peppers, paprika,  and garlic. Truly fabulous!

Helpful Hints: I paired this sauce with crab cakes, but I ended up thinking that it was too intense for the delicate  (and expensive!) flavor of the crab. I’m thinking that it would work really well with something like grilled chicken. I’m also thinking that it would be great sandwiched in an omelet with some cheese and sauteed vegetables!

Romesco Sauce

Source: Bitchincamero

I made a few alterations to the recipe, but nothing major. Here’ s the recipe as I made it.

1/2 cup whole almonds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
16 oz jar roasted red peppers, drained
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1. Set a pan over medium heat and add the almonds. Toast them in the pan, stirring occasionally, until they’re aromatic and starting to brown. Remove the almonds from the heat, and let them cool.

2. Add all of the ingredients to a blender or food processor, and pulse until smooth.

Italian Sausage Dip

Inspiration: If there’s a perfect day for a decadent, cheesy dip, it’s definitely Superbowl Sunday! This one was on our snack menu for the big game.

What we Loved: Creamy cheese, spicy sausage, and sweet tomatoes? Count me in! I always feel like cream cheese makes the best dips, and this dip was no exception.  It had the rich, velvety texture of cream cheese, and I really enjoyed the spicy layers of flavor and the little kick of heat that the Italian sausage added.  The third ingredient, tomatoes, added a nice sweetness and such a lovely color! And on top of how much I loved the taste of this dip, it was easy to prepare, and it tasted great served warm or at room temperature.

Helpful Hints: This makes a lot of dip, so be prepared for leftovers if you aren’t serving a crowd. I’ve still got a sizable amount in the fridge waiting to be eaten. I left the hot sauce out of this dip, but if you’d like a lot of spice, definitely add it in! I found that the Italian sausage had a little bit of spice on its own, which was nice and made for a very mildly spicy dip.

Italian Sausage Dip
Source: My Baking Addiction

Here’s the recipe as I made it, without the hot sauce.

16 oz Italian sausage
15 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chiles, undrained
2 8 oz packages cream cheese

1. Saute the sausage in a skillet over medium heat until cooked through and browned.

2. Reduce the heat to low, and stir in the tomatoes and cream cheese until blended. Cook until just heated through.

3. Serve warm.

Guacamole

B and I both LOVE guacamole. Every time that we have Mexican, it’s always there on our table. For the past several years that I’ve been making it, I’ve been searching for the perfect combination of ingredients and have made it differently each time. A few weeks ago, I finally came up with a recipe that we both love, and we both agree that it’s perfect. I really think that this is the best guacamole that I’ve ever had. I’m always disappointed when we order guacamole in a restaurant and it has an almost soupy consistency. This guacamole has a ton of texture and more flavor than any other that I’ve tried. So delicious.

Guacamole
Source: Original recipe

3 avocados
1 roma tomato, seeded and chopped
2-3 slices Vidalia onion, very finely diced
A handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Approximately 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, but judge this to taste
Juice from 1/2 lime

1. Peel and pit the avocados, and place them into a bowl. Using a potato masher, mash the avocados until smooth.

2. Add the tomato, onion, cilantro, garlic, salt, and lime to the avocado. Stir well to combine.

3. Cover and refrigerate until cold before serving.

4. For leftovers, place the guacamole in the smallest container in which it will fit. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the guacamole, pressing it against the guacamole so that there is no air between the guacamole and the plastic. Cover the container, and store it in the refrigerator. I’ve tried many methods of keeping guacamole fresh, and I was so happy to recently find that this one actually works. A day later, the guacamole is barely discolored.