Avocado Crema

When we are having friends over, we like to create a menu that allows our guests to pick and choose what they want to eat. Recently, we had our friends Kaitlyn and Aaron over for arepas. We had arepas, served with our Beer Braised Shredded Chicken and lots of toppings including black beans, grilled corn, and shredded coleslaw cabbage. One of our favorite condiments for a dinner like this is this recipe for Avocado Crema. The yogurt in the crema is a nice tangy addition to the heartier dishes like braised chicken and stewed black beans. It’s a great condiment for tacos, arepas, quesadillas, or any other of your Mexican favorites.

Avocado Crema

  • Servings: 4 servings
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The perfect, quick and easy, taco topping.

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Use a fork or potato masher to mash the avocado in a small mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients (yogurt – cumin) and mash really well, until the avocado crema is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.


Spicy Green Tahini Sauce

We. Love. This. Sauce. We sometimes forget in everyday cooking how transformative a great sauce can be. Most high end restaurants have a saucier solely responsible for a restaurant’s sauces, dressings, and gravies; that is how important they are. We are trying to introduce a few game-changing sauces that will help you transform a basic dinner recipe. Today’s sauce is Spicy Green Tahini Sauce- a rich and creamy sauce made fresh and bright with herbs, lemon juice, and a jalapeno. We love this sauce on chicken kabobs but it also would be an excellent accompaniment to grilled vegetables, skirt steak, or as a dipping sauce on a veggie tray. It comes together in just a few minutes and livens up anything you add it to. 

Spicy Green Tahini Sauce 
Makes: 4 servings 
Total Time: 5 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/3 cup tahini 
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lemon 
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley or cilantro 
  • 1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed 
  • 2 tbs olive oil 
  • up to 3 tbs water 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Put the first six ingredients (tahini – olive oil) in a blender. Blend until smooth. Add as much as 3 tbs of water to the sauce to get it to a pourable consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper to serve. 

Homemade Tzatziki

Tzatziki is an essential component to any Greek or Middle Eastern menu; you can serve it as an appetizer with pita and sliced vegetables or as a condiment with your entree. It’s cool temperature and flavors help balance out the spicier flavors of Middle Eastern cuisine, like our Lamb Kofta recipe coming tomorrow. You can buy a pre-made version of this in any grocery store, but we prefer to make it ourselves because it takes just a few minutes to make and we can really control the flavors this way. Tate’s mom likes it with extra garlic and Tuck’s mom prefers it with extra lemon zest. 

Homemade Tzatziki 
Makes: 2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes     Total Time: 5 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cucumber, diced or grated 
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt 
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill, packed and minced 
  • zest of 1 lemon 
  • juice of 1/2 lemon 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 tbs olive oil, separated 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions 

  1. The consistency of the tzatziki is up to you. We prefer a chunkier version and dice the cucumbers; if you prefer a smoother version grate the cucumbers into a medium sized bowl. 
  2. Add the yogurt, dill, zest and juice of the lemon, garlic, and 1 tbs olive oil to the cucumber mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  3. Serve the tzatziki chilled to room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil over the top. Serve with crudite or pitas. 


Cherry Tomatoes Confit

We always try to eat seasonal ingredients when we can, but lately with shortages of food products, that isn’t quite as easy. Tomatoes are an ideal quarantine ingredient even if they are not fully in season until mid summer. To make tomatoes taste bolder and more like in season tomatoes, we have prepared them with a confit method. To prepare something “confit” is to cook something low and slow in a fat to preserve the ingredient. We chose to infuse olive oil with lots of garlic and herbs as our fat to take these out of season tomatoes and transform them into something much more flavorful. The tomatoes will last 5 days in the refrigerator but can also be frozen in individual serving size packets. We love to throw the tomatoes onto toast with an egg for breakfast, onto a pizza, or into pasta with fresh burrata…. recipe coming tomorrow!

Cherry Tomatoes Confit

Makes: 2 lbs tomatoes

Prep Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 1 hour Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6 stems of basil leaves
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a small baking dish- an 8×8 or 8×10 pyrex is perfect for this recipe.
  3. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and basil to the baking dish. Give everything a good stir, making sure the basil and garlic have been completely submerged in the oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 1 hour. The tomatoes should be wilted but not exploding.
  4. Remove the tomatoes from the oven. If you are not using the tomatoes right away, cool completely before storing in the refrigerator or freezer. Store with all of the oil for the best results.

Homemade Chili Oil

We have said it about 1000 times already but we absolutely love Asian food. One of our favorite ways to eat dumplings, pot stickers, noodles and just about anything, Asian or not, is to add chili oil. It is a condiment that we immediately request when we sit down to eat. With this in mind, we experimented a bit to create our own chili oil that we could have on hand in the kitchen to spice up our recipes. This recipe is a bit involved in terms of ingredients. You are going to need a lot of spices and to execute this carefully so they do not burn. But don’t be intimidated! We will walk you through this step by step. The best part is, once you make this recipe, you will have enough to hold you over for a while. Maybe….


Homemade Chili Oil
Makes: 1.5 cups of chili oil
Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 tbs Chinese chili powder (see here)
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs cayenne powder
  • 1 tbs Chinese 5 spice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 Thai chilies
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil

Directions:

  1. Combine all seasonings (star anise – Thai chilies) in an oven proof dish. You will want to be sure that this dish is deep enough enough room for the 1.5 cups of oil plus an inch or two on top.
  2. In a pan, heat the canola oil. Once hot, add the garlic. You will want the garlic to begin to fry but not burn – roughly one minute. Turn off the heat on the pan.
  3. Very carefully (over your sink) pour the hot oil into the dish with the seasonings. Once the oil is added, the seasonings will begin to boil. This is what you want! Let the seasonings boil and do their thing for a few minutes while the oil cools.
  4. When the oil cools completely, store in a mason jar or other air proof container. To keep it lasting longer, keep it in the refrigerator.
  5. Use on top of anything. Dumplings, noodles, tacos, eggs… the sky is the limit!


Nonna’s Meat Sauce

There is nothing that reminds Tate’s dad of home more than a bowl of pasta with his favorite homemade meat sauce. During the holiday time, we took advantage of having family in town to watch and record the coveted process of making this delicious meat sauce. This is a recipe that has been passed down multiple generations and makes a very hearty Sunday family dinner. Note: this recipe makes A TON of sauce. Feel free to modify to the portion size that fits your family best or make this and freeze a bag or two or three!

Nonna’s Meat Sauce
Makes: 16 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients:

Sauce

  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 13 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup dried parsley
  • ¼ cup Italian seasoning
  • 3, 28oz cans peeled tomatoes
  • 2, 28oz cans crushed tomatoes

Meatballs

  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 7 eggs
  • 4 oz pecorino romano cheese
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1 tbs onion powder
  • 6 slices white bread
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 lb Italian hot sausage links
  • 1 lb Italian sweet sausage links

Directions:

For the sauce

  1. Heat a large stock pot with 5 tbs canola oil. Add the garlic and saute until golden brown. Approximately 5 minutes.
  2. Add the dried parsley and Italian seasoning. Stir for one minute and remove from the heat.
  3. Add the crushed and peeled tomatoes to the stock pot. Using a wooden spatula or spoon, crush the tomatoes and break them down into smaller pieces. If you notice any pieces of tomato skin, remove the pieces and throw them out.
  4. Fill one of the cans of tomatoes half-way and run the water through all of the tomato cans to collect as much of the remaining tomato sauce as possible. Add the tomato water to the pot. Fill the can half way again and add to the pot.
  5. Turn the heat back on medium/high and bring the sauce to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat so that the sauce is on a low simmer. Let simmer, covered, for at least one hour.

For the meatballs

  1. Put the ground beef and eggs, cheese, black pepper and onion powder in a large bowl.
  2. Take the white bread and rinse it in cold water. Using your hands, squeeze the water out of the bread and place it in the bowl.
  3. Using your hands, blend the ingredients together. If using your hands is not for you, you can use a spoon, but we highly recommend using your hands as you will get a better mix (and it’s the Italian way!)
  4. Once the mixture is well combined, mold the meatball mix into 2-3 inch meatballs. You should get around 15-20 meatballs.
  5. Heat a large saute pan on medium and add the oil. Once hot, add the meatballs until the pan is full. Fry in the oil for 5 minutes or until the meat is browned. Flip the meatballs over and fry for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the meatballs and set aside. Repeat until all of the meatballs are cooked.
  6. Remove half of the oil from the pot. Return the oil to medium heat and add the sausage links. You will want to cook all of the sausage until browned, similar to the meatballs and add it to the tomato sauce when completed.

Bringing it all together

  1. After the sauce has simmered for at least an hour, add the meatballs and sausage, in full links, to the sauce.
  2. Cook on simmer for at least another hour to let the flavors blend and meld together.
  3. Serve with pasta and top with more cheese or parsley as desired.

Sunday Night Salad Dressing

Whenever we are putting together menus, our Sunday Night Salad seems to always be one of the most utilized recipes. From dinner parties, to – you guessed it- Sunday night dinner, we constantly have this in the rotation. The dressing on the salad is so simple but so good. We are always complimented on it when we serve it, and can’t tell people enough how easy it is to recreate at home. It can hold in your refrigerator for weeks and is a great staple to have on hand for any salad recipe.

Sunday Night Salad Dressing
Makes: 1 1/2 cups of dressing
Total Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients For Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 small red onion, minced
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Refrigerate the dressing for at least 2 hours before serving.

Marinara Sauce

Tate’s dad is an Italian and there is nothing that he likes more than pasta with red sauce. Red sauce is a staple in both of his parents kitchens and serves as the base for many family recipes. We asked for a recipe last year and have delivered it here to you with our own twist. What we love about this sauce is that it is simple to put together but full of flavor. Depending on if you like basil or parsley, you can tweak the herbs in this recipe to cater to your individual taste. The most important part is choosing canned tomatoes that are high quality. Our personal preference is San Marzano.

You can use this recipe for dozens and dozens of dishes, including our Proscuitto Stuffed Chicken Breasts, a sauce for lasagna, or even a sauce for homemade pizza. It stores well in the freezer, so making a big batch is great to have extra on hand for later on.

Marinara Sauce

Makes: 8 cups of sauce

Active Cooking Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 80 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2, 14.5 cans whole plum tomatoes
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, sliced into thin slices
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1, 8 oz can tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Place the tomatoes and basil into a food processor and blend until completely pureed.
  • In a stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Stir the garlic and sauté 3-4 minutes, or until it is starting to brown. Add the parsley and stir.
  • Add the tomato puree and tomato paste to the pot. Stir to mix everything together well and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, cover the pot, and cook for at least one hour.
  • Season with salt and pepper, if desired, before serving.