Asian Peanut Sauce

Have you ever had spring rolls in Chinese restaurant and thought to yourself “I could eat this peanut sauce with a spoon”? Well I have, and having it over spring rolls is simply not enough for me. This Asian Peanut Sauce is perfect for everything from dressing a salad, drizzled over noodles or for dipping sauce for spring rolls or shrimp kabobs. This recipe is a keeper.

 

 

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. peanut butter
1 tbsp. brown sugar
½ tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. warm water
Zest and juice from ½ lime
1 tsp. sriracha

 

Whisk all ingredients together until fully incorporated. Toss with a green salad or serve as a dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Sausage Gravy

Sausage Gravy is a southern staple for breakfast. It is delightful on some homemade biscuits, and (my favorite!) anything chicken fried. It couldn’t be any easier to make, and a perfect way to add flavor and spice to your next brunch. I used hot sausage because I like things spicy, but mild breakfast sausage can easily be substituted if you prefer.

 

Ingredients:
½ tbsp. bacon grease
4 oz. crumbled pork breakfast sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
2 tbsp. flour
¾ cup milk
Salt & pepper to taste (I like lots of pepper!)

Heat cast iron or heavy bottom skillet on medium-low heat. Add bacon grease and crumbled sausage and stir until cooked throughout, about 5 minutes. Add flour to pan and continue to stir for 2 minutes more, until all of the sausage is coated in flour. Add milk, salt and pepper and let simmer until thick, about 5-8 minutes. Serve immediately over biscuits or Chicken Fried Pork Chops. Enjoy!

Red Enchilada Sauce

cheesy-chicken-and-corn-enchiladasAustin is synonymous with Tex-Mex, especially the great enchilada! There is something satisfying about rolling up a shell with your favorite filling and topping with sauce. The French have their crepes, New Yorkers love manicotti, and today we are making some enchiladas (although I am a fan of crepes and manicotti also!)

Then there is the debate between red or green enchilada sauce. They both have a place at my kitchen table, but when I am short on time, this Red Enchilada Sauce is the way to go. It’s rich, savory, and takes about 10 minutes, which means it’s perfect for an easy weeknight dinner, but delicious any time.

red-enchilada-sauceIngredients:
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. flour
1 ½ tbsp. chili powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. cumin
14.5 oz. container chicken broth
8 oz. can tomato sauce
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
Pinch of oregano

Heat canola oil on low heat. Whisk in flour until starting to bubble, about 1 minute. Whisk in chili powder, garlic powder and cumin until incorporated. Add chicken broth and tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Season with salt, pepper and oregano and simmer for 5 minutes. Add to Cheesy Chicken and Corn Enchiladas or your favorite recipe. Enjoy!

Herbed Butter

herbed-butterSummer is the season for fresh herbs and nothing kicks up dinner a notch like having some fresh herbed butter to slather on homemade baked goodies. Get ready to impress your guests with a loaf of homemade bread and herbed butter fresh from the garden – they are both so easy to make!

 

 

herbed-butter-2Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
Your favorite herbs – my favorite combos are basil and garlic, chive and garlic, and dill and parsley
Whatever your favorite combinations are, my rule of thumb is 1 clove of garlic and 1 tbsp. minced herbs per stick of butter
Sea salt

 

herbed-butter-3Pulse herbs and garlic in food processor, add softened butter, and mix thoroughly (do no whip). Scoop herbed butter in wax paper, and roll into a log. Put in refrigerator for 1 hour to set, remove and slice into rounds. Spread onto freshly baked bread, sprinkle with sea salt, and enjoy!

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Cranberry Pecan Spinach Salad with Balsamic VinaigretteAs summer blazes on in Texas, we are having more and more salads with dinner.  Mixing up a cool, fresh salad keeps me from having to turn the oven on, and changing up the ingredients keeps them new and interesting. No same-old, same-old around here!

Homemade vinaigrettes > store bought vinaigrettes.  They are easy to make, inexpensive, and taste 100x better.  Once you experiment with making vinaigrettes at home, you will never buy them again.

Among the most popular is Balsamic Vinaigrette, and this recipe is my favorite. The tangy balsamic is balanced by the sweetness of the honey, and using a high quality olive oil really comes through in every bite. Perfect for tossing with some leafy greens, drizzling over fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, or using as a marinade for chicken, I have a jar of this in the fridge at all times.

Ingredients:
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. honey simple syrup
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
¼ tsp Italian seasonings (dried basil and oregano blend)
Salt and pepper

Steakhouse Chopped Salad with Balamic VinaigretteWhisk together balsamic vinegar, honey simple syrup, olive oil, Dijon mustard, pressed garlic, and Italian seasonings until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with a Steakhouse Chopped Salad, Cranberry Pecan Spinach Salad, or one of your favorites. Enjoy!

30 Minute Tomato Sauce

30 Minute Tomato Sauce 3After spending a week in New York visiting family, you would think I’ve had my fill of Italian food. And while I certainly did indulge in all of the delicious pasta and pizza, I can never really get enough. Since I made a big batch of Homemade Ricotta Cheese, I had more than enough after making a Hot Soppressata Pizza for other meals during the week.  It doesn’t get much better than tomato sauce with a big dollop of cool, creamy Homemade Ricotta!  Since the pizza recipe doesn’t call for any tomato sauce, I needed to make a batch of 30 Minute Tomato Sauce in a pinch.

 

Typically, I make a big batch of tomato sauce that simmers away for hours, and freeze several containers for use over the next couple of months. That is still my favorite way. But when dinner needs to be on the table in 30 minutes, this is my go to recipe.

30 Minute Tomato Sauce 2I use canned whole tomatoes rather than crushed or pureed for a couple of reasons. The primary reason is that I think the best tomatoes (freshest and best looking) are left intact for canning. I don’t know if this is really true, but it seems that way to me. The second reason is that the texture of the sauce can be changed based on what I’m making. Sometimes I want my sauce a little chunkier and using whole tomatoes lets me control the amount of the squish! That’s a technical cooking term by the way.

Ingredients:
2 28 oz. cans of whole plum tomatoes
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 small shallots, minced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil (optional)

30 Minute Tomato Sauce 1Pour whole tomatoes with their liquids into a large bowl. Using your hands, squish tomatoes to desired consistency. If you like a really smooth tomato sauce, they can be pureed in a food processor.
Preheat a medium saucepan on medium-low heat and sauté minced shallots and garlic in olive oil until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning, sugar, crushed red pepper, salt, pepper and fresh basil. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If sauce is a little watery, increase heat to medium and simmer for 5-10 minutes more. Enjoy!

Spicy Chili Honey

Spicy Chili HoneyI’m not really sure if what I’m about to tell you qualifies as a recipe or cooking but I am going to tell you anyway. You need to have Spicy Chili Honey in your pantry if you are fan of “sweet-heat” anything. I love adding this spicy kick to Homemade Ricotta Cheese with peaches for a creamy dessert, or anything that has cured salty meats, like my Hot Soppressata Pizza. I put this on a nice charcuterie board, so it can be drizzled cheeses, meats and breads… it can be a little addicting. I think I might even put a bowl of it on the table next time I make some fried chicken, because we all know drizzling a little honey on top of fried chicken makes it even better.

Ingredients:
4 oz. honey
1 tsp. crushed red pepper

Spicy Chili Honey 2In a microwave safe bowl, combine honey and crushed red pepper. Microwave for 20 seconds, stir to combine and then let stand for 10 minutes. Mixture can be used right away or will continue to get spicier as it’s stored at room temperature in a small glass container. Enjoy!

Citrus Vinaigrette

Citrus VinaigretteSummer is the season for fresh vegetables, less cooking (inside anyway!) and eating a little lighter. This is the perfect citrusy dressing for a side salad, or my favorite entrée salad – Maryland Crab Cake Salad – fresh greens, red onions, peppers and cucumbers tossed with Citrus Vinaigrette topped with crab and a spicy remoulade. The tangy vinegar is balanced by the sweet honey, and it’s the perfect light dressing to enhance the flavor of garden fresh vegetables.

 

Citrus Vinaigrette 2Making vinaigrettes at home is really easy, and they taste so much better than store bought salad dressings. You can experiment with different types/flavors of vinegar to compliment your salad style – and the best part – have control over the quality of ingredients. Most vinegars are pretty tart, and store bought salad dressings are either too bitter for my taste or include some sort of artificial sweetener I can taste from a mile away. Using honey balances the vinegar naturally.

 

Maryland Crab Cake SaladIngredients (dresses 2 entrée sized salads or 4 side salads):
2 tbsp. citrus vinegar (I use Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar)
1 tbsp. honey simple syrup (or ½ tbsp. honey and ½ tbsp. water)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour over your favorite salad and toss to coat. Enjoy!

 

Pistachio and Basil Pesto

Pistachio and Basil PestoWhew! The last few weeks have been hectic. Packing, moving, unpacking… but we are all settled in to our new home and ready to enjoy the summer. Basil is my all-time favorite summertime herb, so much so, that one basil plant just isn’t enough in my house. Of course when I make pesto, I think pasta, but it’s also great on pizza, in soups, and – my newest favorite – on sandwiches. Doesn’t a grilled cheese with mozzarella and prosciutto, topped with bright and aromatic pesto sound indulgent?  This pesto sauce also takes less than 5 minutes to make; all the ingredients are thrown in a food processor and blended until smooth.  Easy and delicious!

Pesto is traditionally made with toasted pine nuts, but the grocery store sells pistachios in the bulk section, where I can buy just what I need for a single recipe. Pistachios are also less expensive than pine nuts, so it’s a win-win to me.

Pistachio and Basil Pesto 2Ingredients (serves 4):
¼ cup unsalted pistachios, toasted (see below)
3-4 cups loosely packed basil leaves
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, quartered
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper

To toast the pistachios, preheat a small skillet on medium heat. Add pistachios and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and place toasted pistachios, basil leaves, parmesan cheese, garlic, crushed red pepper and olive oil to a food processor.  Pulse until ingredients are smooth, scraping the sides with a spatula as necessary. Season with salt and pepper and toss with your favorite pasta for an easy weeknight meal.

Enjoy!

Pickled Onions

Pickled Onions 1Pickled onions are so delicious that if you make them once, you will forever have a jar of pickled onions in your fridge. They are perfect to top tacos, nachos, sandwiches, burgers, and you will never want to be without them!

 

 

Pickled Onions 2

 

Luckily they are pretty easy to make also. They can be made plain or by adding peppercorns, thyme, jalapenos, radishes, anything you want to give them an extra kick of flavor.

Ingredients:
Red onion
Boiling water
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 cup white vinegar

Pickled Onions 3Slice red onion, put in a colander and place colander in sink. Slowly pour boiling water over onions. In a glass bowl or jar, dissolve salt and sugar in vinegar. Add onions (and any other optional spices) and in 30 minutes you will have pickled onions. They are even better after a day in the fridge and will keep for a few weeks.
Enjoy!