Pico De Gallo

Summer is quickly coming to an end, and with that I’m in make-the-most-of-it-mode.  Before you know it, we’ll be pumpkin spicing everything, and we’ll be longing for the days of backyard barbecues and gorgeous summer produce.

This recipe for Pico De Gallo, a tomato heavy side to eat alongside almost anything (chips, tacos, burgers, etc.) is an ode to the bounty of summer fruits and vegetables.  Tomatoes are being harvested in loads, and these beautiful gems are at the peak of their freshness.  Speaking of tomatoes, I planted 9 tomato plants in my yard this year, and although they’ve grown tremendous and look lush (they even have gorgeous yellow blooms!), I’ve had zero harvest.  Not a single tomato. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

😐 😐 😐

In any case, the grocery stores and farmers markets are packed to the brim with these beauties, so I’ve been filling the hole in my heart (from this year’s lackluster garden) with them.

(Recipe adapted from Serious Eats)

 

 

Pico De Gallo

Yield: 4 – 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds tomatoes, diced
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup diced onion
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 jalapeno, minced

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix tomatoes and salt. Transfer to a colander and drain for 30 minutes. Discard liquid.

Return tomatoes to bowl and combine remaining ingredients. Mix and taste. Season with additional salt if necessary.

 

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Creamy Herb Spread

Hello lovers! How has Ramadan been going for you thus far? We’re already 9 days in and I cannot believe it’s going by so fast (but isn’t that what we say every year?)! Alhumdullilah (praise be to God), it’s going well for us. Our son has been going for Taraveeh (special night time prayers at the Mosque) almost every night with my husband, and he loves it. Our local Mosque has arranged a daycare for the kids for while the parents observe prayer, and he loves hanging out with his little buddies there.

I’ve been trying to keep things interesting for Iftar (break-fast time), and I finally got a chance to modify some of this delicious Creamy Herb Spread from The Comfort of Cooking.  It’s an amazingly creamy and flavorful spread that can be used to fill veggies (like mini peppers or cucumbers!), and would also be amazing as a spread used for tea sandwiches. It’s versatile and keeps well in the fridge, and is a fun departure from traditional finger goods!

 

CreamyHerbSpread

Creamy Herb Spread

Yield: 1 – 1 ¼ Cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk (by hand or mixer) until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a piping bag and use as needed.

Leftovers must be refrigerated.

 

Sundried Tomato Dip

Since becoming the owner/manager/parent of two Littles, I’ve come to realize that I am a big snacker. Like, huge. It might or might not have to do with the fact that I no longer have the time to sit down and enjoy a meal. Forget meals, even bathroom breaks are a luxury of the past. And showers? Pssh, ain’t nobody got time for that! (After rereading this, I realize that I must sound really disgusting, but this girl is just trying to keep things real 😉 )

Anyway, back to the topic at hand- snacks! I love having some kind of snack at the table when I have friends over, and dip is one of those things that everyone loves. Whether it be adults or children, everyone enjoys scooping their favorite veggie or chip into a bowl of their favorite dip.

Today’s recipe, a Sundried Tomato Dip, is a welcome departure from the usual salsa and sour cream and onion dip. It’s creamy, flavorful, and versatile enough that it could be delicious as a condiment in burgers, wraps, and sandwiches. In fact, I think I’ll be throwing together some chicken sandwiches with whatever leftover dip I have 🙂

(In some fun news, I’ve joined the talented team of ladies at Macaron And On, and this post comes from me as one of their food contributors.  For those who are coming over from Macaron And On, welcome! I hope to get to know you better and see you around more often 🙂 )

 

SundriedTomatoDipPic

 

Sundried Tomato Dip

Yield: Approximately 2 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes (approximately 8 tomatoes; either oil-packed or dry-packed may be used. If using oil-packed, blot dry. If using dry-packed, rehydrate by submerging in boiling water for one hour; blot dry and use as directed.)
  • 2 teaspoons Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

Directions:

Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, tomatoes, hot sauce, salt, and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse on high speed until completely smooth, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl in between pulses. Fold in green onions.

Serve with choice of accompaniments. Dip may be made up to three days in advance and must be stored in the refrigerator.

Marinara Sauce

I’ve been on the lookout for a homemade Marinara recipe for a really long time.  I’ve been slowly trying to incorporate more homemade pantry staples (although this recipe uses canned crushed tomatoes… you win some, you lose some, right?) and I’ve finally found a red sauce that I can call the sauce.  This recipe is very easy to whip up, and it is wonderful used as a dip (a recipe for focaccia, where I use this sauce as a dip, is coming very soon), as a pasta sauce, and even as a base for pizza. Another great thing about this marinara sauce is that it freezes wonderfully! I made a large batch and froze individual jars of sauce for later use.  Whenever I needed some, I simply left it out of the counter for a few hours, and voilà!  Marinara at your service 🙂   MarinaraPic

Marinara Sauce

Yield: 3 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ¾ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar

Directions: Heat oil in a large vessel over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add onions and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add carrots, salt, and pepper, and cook until the vegetables are slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, and bay leaf, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally, until thickened and the vegetables are completely tender. Stir in butter and brown sugar. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Remove and discard bay leaf. Using an immersion blender or food processor, blend the sauce until smooth.

Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce

Do you remember how I mentioned that I made an ice cream bar for Zuni’s birthday party back in May?  Well, this Vanilla Bean Caramel was one of the components of said bar.  I used the basic recipe from my trusted ice cream source, The Perfect Scoop, and added a vanilla bean to take it over the top (much thanks to Annie’s Eats for the idea!).  The result is a luscious sauce that is amazing poured over ice cream, stirred into coffee, used sandwiched between cookies, and even eaten directly from the jar (hey, don’t look this way, it was just a suggestion) 😉

 

VanillaBeanCaramelPic

 

Vanilla Bean Caramel

Yield: 1 ½ Cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:

Spread sugar evenly at the bottom of a large saucepan. Place over medium-low heat. When the sugar begins to liquefy around the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently stir it towards the center. Continue stirring very gently until all of the sugar has melted, making sure not to over-stir.

Measure out the heavy whipping cream into a small bowl, and scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into it. Add the bean itself to the cream as well. Set aside.

Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove from heat. Whisk in half of the cream mixture, making sure to work carefully as the caramel will bubbly and steam violently. Once the cream has been incorporated, stir in the remaining cream and mix well. Stir in vanilla and salt. If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth.

When cooled, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The vanilla bean can stay in the caramel or be thrown away, according to preference.