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.

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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.

Salsa with Black Beans, Peppers, and Sweet Corn

These types of black bean salsas are one of my new favorite things to eat in the summer. They’re so fresh and flavorful, and they go well with so many different meals…served over fish, in burritos, with tortilla chips. I even like to eat salsas like this as a side dish, as we did tonight with our crab cakes. So healthy and delicious.

Salsa with Black Beans, Peppers, and Sweet Corn
Original Recipe, Serves 2 as a side dish

1/3 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup frozen or fresh sweet corn
1 poblano chile, diced
2-3 fire roasted red pepper pieces from a jar, chopped (you could also roast a fresh red pepper under the broiler until blackened, peeling the skin off when cool and then chopping)
1/3-1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 small red onion, diced
Salt and pepper

1. Combine all vegetables, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.

Basil Pesto

Classic Basil Pesto

*Photos Updated July 2012*

Whenever I have a bunch of basil to use up before it goes bad, I make a batch of pesto. I learned somewhere along the line to freeze it into tablespoon portions in an ice cube tray, then pop out the cubes once they’re frozen and move them into a container to keep in the freezer. This way, your basil doesn’t go bad and you have perfectly sized portions of pesto to take out of the freezer whenever you need them. And it helps that we’re both in love with pesto. It goes so well in so many applications. We like it stuffed with cheese into chicken breasts, sandwiched into an omelet or mixed with scrambled eggs, stuffed into scallops before searing them, used as a marinade for shrimp kabobs – the list is endless.

Pesto
Source: Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Italian Recipes
Serves: Makes about 3/4 cup

This is a traditional pesto recipe without any unusual additions. We love it.

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
Salt and pepper

1. In a food processor or a blender, combine all of the ingredients. Cover and process or blend until nearly smooth, stopping and scraping the sides as necessary. If necessary, add additional olive oil to thin the pesto.