Friday Recipe Exchange: Just a Little Salsa Flavor

Photo by JeffreyW

Photo by JeffreyW

I have lost my cooking mojo. I have a stash this <————> big of recipes I want to try and share with you, but every time I look at my kitchen I go,“meh”. So next week I’m going to begin blogging in a bit of a different way and hope it brings back enough creativity to overcome my kitchen ennui. I hope you’ll check in and see how it’s going. There will probably be plenty of notes on Bixby antics. He’s become quite the clown. Spoiler alert, he has a girlfriend.

Until I can rediscover my kitchen magic, here are some recipes from 2012 that take advantage of garden bounty:

I am not a fan of canning. When I am overrun by tomatoes, I lean more towards freezing bags of pureed cooked tomatoes to use in sauces and soups later on. I also love to make a batch of salsa each week when the produce is fresh. Since I was faced with an abundance of tomatoes this week, I felt it was time for some salsa.

I have a Vita-Mix, which means if I’m not paying attention, salsa quickly goes from chunky salsa to picante sauce in the blink of an eye. Tonight my first batch went to full juice before I realized what I was doing. I’ll pulse my next batch and pay closer attention. Not sure what I’m going to do with the juice – but it sure tastes good.

Tonight’s recipes are all about tomatoes and what to do with the bounty from the garden or farm stand. I bet everyone has a favorite salsa recipe, I like mine fresh and simple. JeffreyW has a good salsa recipe and a nice Salsa Verde in case you’re tired of tomatoes, recipe here. He also makes and cans batches of his Awesome Sauce™, recipe here.

I love tomato season – sliced on a plate, grilled with olive oil, pasta caprese salad (recipe here), or just going out to the garden and eating the grape tomatoes right off the vine.

Are tomatoes a summer favorite? What’s your favorite way to prepare them? Anyone (besides JeffreyW) canning? And I know you have some salsa recipes to share…

Featured tonight, salsa recipes:

TaMara Fresh Salsa

  • 4 tomatoes, quartered
  • 6 green onions
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ to 1 bunch cilantro, remove stems
  • 2 to 4 jalapenos*, remove stems
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • dash of limejuice if desired

blender or food processor

In blender or food processor, add all ingredients and coarsely chop until blended well**.  If you can make a day ahead, it gets even better.  Seal in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week.

**If you prefer a chunkier style salsa, you’d be better off chopping vegetables by hand.

JeffreyW’s  Salsa:

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(Oh, you wanted his recipe…)

Couple of the jalapenos, a smallish onion or two, those green peppers, and most of the tomatoes.  Added a couple of dried ancho peppers all snipped small, a dash of chili powder, a few garlic cloves, a good squirt of lime juice, a bit of salt and fresh ground black pepper

(I think this is why I write the recipes and he takes the photos – both of us working to our strengths)

That’s if for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Meatballs

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A few weeks back I made meatball grinders – subs to most people – and was talking to my mom about them, because after all I used her recipe. She told me that one of her favorite things to do is to buy ground beef when it’s on sale and make and freeze a whole bunch of meatballs. Then they are available to make all kinds of good stuff, like meatball soup and various meatball sandwiches.

Until that moment, I hadn’t given meatballs much thought. I mean they’re good, but beyond the occasional grinder, I didn’t really use them. Then I went tripping around my own blog and found that JeffreyW had a whole bunch of meatball ideas. And that’s how we got to tonight’s recipe exchange idea: Meatballs!

I’ll post a basic meatball recipe below and include the grinder/sub recipe. But first, let me point you to both JeffreyW’s basic meatball recipe and how he’s used them:

“Not Your Mama’s Meatballs” (recipe here)

Meatball Soup (recipe here)

Couscous with Meatballs (recipe here)

For all of JefferyW’s meatball recipes, click here.

Your turn. Do you have a favorite meatball recipe? Beyond spaghetti and meatball subs, what do you use meatballs in? And does anyone have a good vegetarian meatball recipe? Hit the comments and share your ideas.

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Photo by JeffreyW

A quick tip, cookie scoops make meatball production easier and quick.

Now for the featured recipes:

This is a DOUBLE recipe that makes 8 to 10 subs, you can easily halve the ingredients or you can freeze extra meatballs and sauce for later.

Meatballs:

  • 2 lbs lean ground beef*
  • ½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp basil

baking sheet

Mix all ingredients together and mix well. You’re going make 1 ½ inch balls. The easiest way to do this is to use a cookie/muffin scoop (see photo above). Place on the baking sheet and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes. Don’t overcook, as they will finish in the sauce.

*For spicier meatballs you can substitute 1/4 to 1/2 of the ground beef with spicy Italian sausage.

Sauce:

  • 4-15 oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2-6 oz cans tomato paste
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 3 tsp basil, crushed
  • 3 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated

In large saucepan or dutch oven, add ingredients, bring to a low boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add meatballs and stir gently. Let simmer for 10 minutes or longer.

Grinder/Sub Assembly:

  • 8 large hoagie/sub rolls
  • 2-4 oz parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz sliced mozzarella cheese

baking sheet

Slice rolls, but DO NOT slice completely in half.  Place 4 to 6 meatballs in each roll, add lots of sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan and top with slices of mozzarella. Place on baking sheet, cheese side up and bake at 375° for 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and bread is toasty. Keep a good eye on it, they will burn quickly. Serve with lots of napkins.

NOTE: My mom has this trick of slicing out a wedge on the top of the rolls (instead of slicing them in half lengthwise) to make the pocket (see photo at top). Then they actually sit on their natural flat bottoms while baking. This has the added advantage of creating instant breadsticks from what is cut out that you can brush with olive oil and garlic and bake.

Thursday Friday Recipe Exchange: Chili Party

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So I hear there is some kind of football game happening during a Beyoncé concert on Sunday. Last year we tackled a bunch of Super Bowl foods that started with nachos and ended at pizza (you can find them here).

I didn’t see how we could top that, so I was at loss this year what to post pre-game. I finally settled on chili. I figured we could find plenty to argue with there, since I think just about everyone has a favorite chili recipe and will throw down to defend it. So have at it. What’s your favorite chili recipe? What are you noshing on at the big game?

Personally, I’ll be having tea and crumpets with the Dowager Countess. “Scones anyone?” (said with a very prim British accent).

Here are some of the chili recipes that we’ve tackled over the years:

First, from the oldest of my brothers: Quick and Easy Chili (recipe here)

JeffreyW’s Chorizo Chili (recipe here)

And tonight’s featured recipe from JeffreyW:

Beer Chili

I’ve used beer in recipes before but I don’t remember using any in chili before today.  A quick search turned up plenty of evidence of prior art so there won’t be any recipe patents applied for today, alas.  Aside from the bottle of stout in it there isn’t much to say about this recipe:  1 lb of ground beef, 1/2 lb of my homemade chorizo, 1 can of tomato bits with green chilies, 1 can of chili beans, a diced onion, 5 minced cloves of garlic, a fair amount of chili powder, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and the bottle of beer.

Cook the onion in a bit of oil, add the garlic and the meat and brown everything well.  Remove the fat and then add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then simmer for at least an hour.  Serve with your favorite garnishes.

Mrs J and I agree on the cheddar cheese, she takes a pass on the peppers and prefers the nacho chips crumbled and stirred in.  I like to scoop the chili with the chips like it is a big bowl of dip.  This batch of nacho chips are just a bit too thin for that, they break too easily.  Nice flavor, though.  I just wish I hadn’t purchased the jumbo case lot of them.  LOL

One last note from TaMara: For the foreseeable future, recipe exchange will be on Fridays. See you next week.

Recipe Exchange Updates, Rosemary and Author Wiley Cash

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Kirk Spencer had a terrific suggestion in an email this morning. We were talking about bamboo skewers (and how you MUST soak them before grilling to avoid flaming kabobs) and he said he’d used rosemary stems as skewers. I thought this sounded just wonderful. Maybe a lemon marinated chicken skewered on rosemary. It wouldn’t need much other seasoning, that’s for sure, and of course you’d really need to like rosemary. Lamb would probably hold up well with that type of seasoning.  Yum. Can’t wait to try on something.

Now for some news on the Thursday Recipe Exchange. This week it will be postponed to Friday because the wonderful Wiley Cash will be live blogging over at Balloon-Juice about his book A Land More Kind Than Home tonight. And since I post the recipe exchange specifically to be cross-posted over there, a changed seemed prudent.

Friday night is where it’s going to stay for the time being, because of some special events planned at B-J on Thursdays. I’m good with that, hope you are, too.

Back to Mr. Cash, first of all, has there ever been a better novelist’s name? I read his book when it first came out and gave it as gifts over the summer. It’s worth a read, sets a beautiful North Carolina mountain scene as the backdrop to a dark mystery. It’s a quick and compelling story, told from the perspective of several characters in the first person.

I think that covers everything. Hopefully Kirk and I will have a big cooking announcement in the coming weeks.

Until tomorrow….

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Chipotles in Adobo Sauce

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JeffreyW uses his chipotles in adobo sauce for breakfast.

It seems that JeffreyW and I both have a fondness for chipotles. I hadn’t realized it until I decided to feature his recipe for homemade chipotles in adobo sauce. There were four pages of recipes that included them in some way or another. They can all be found here.

I was thrilled when JeffreyW put together a batch of chipotles in adobo sauce, using jalapenos from his summer garden. I learned a lot from his post. I’m going to direct you to the entire thing instead of just reposting his recipe because he does a terrific explanation of the whole process. So before you try any of tonight’s other recipes, you might want to start with JeffreyW’s recipe (found here).

Once you’ve got your chipotles and sauce all prepped (or bought), you can try them in any of the following:

My absolute favorite is Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon (recipe here). A great way to kick up a comfort food.

The spicy sauce is great in combination with fruits. When strawberries were in season I spiced up someone else’s recipe for Chicken in Strawberry Sauce with some chipotles in adobo sauce for a real treat (recipe here).

And from the photo at top, JeffreyW uses it to spice up his breakfast (recipe here).

So are you a fan of chipotles in adobo sauce? Have a favorite way to use them? If you haven’t tried them, are they something you might try now that we’ve wowed you with their many uses?

Finally, tonight’s featured recipe:

I had canned a big batch of apple butter a while back and one night I was wondering what to do with it besides spread it on bread. I had been thinking that it would be good with chicken or pork and eventually decided that barbecue chicken thighs would be where I would start. Then I decided to heat it up.  A spicy, smoky mix of apple butter, chipotles in adobo sauce and a touch of spices made the perfect sauce:

BBQ Thighs Final

Chipotle-Apple Butter Barbecue Chicken

I decided that bone-in, skin on thighs would work best.

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic

————

  • 1 cup apple butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (to start, add more as desired)
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Season thighs with 1 tsp crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Let sit for 5-10 minutes while oven or grill preheats to 375 degrees. Bake or grill chicken for 15 minutes. Meanwhile in a blender or food processor, blend together remaining ingredients until smooth. Brush on chicken thighs thickly at the 15 minute mark and add more every 5 minutes until chicken reaches 165 degrees internal temperature (usually 10-15 minutes for a total cooking time of 25 to 30 minutes). Serve with lots of napkins.

Cheesy-Lemon Cauliflower

I’m focusing on vegetables for Thursday’s recipe exchange. The lemon juice really brings out the flavors in this one.

Cheesy-Lemon Cauliflower

  • 16 oz cauliflower crowns
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ tsp curry
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 oz shredded cheddar
  • 1 lemon, quartered

saucepan

Add cauliflower, 1 inch of water and ¼ cup lemon juice in saucepan, bring to a boil and cook until cauliflower is just tender. Drain. In saucepan, melt 1 tbsp butter, sauté onion until golden, then add flour, stirring until smooth. Add milk, seasonings and cheese, stir until well mixed and smooth. Add cauliflower, stir well. Reduce heat and let simmer on low, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Ginger Glazed Carrots

Originally posted December 2009.

I thought I’d post a few vegetable recipes this week.  I often prefer my vegetables raw or lightly stir-fried, so I don’t do many fancy veggie recipes.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a bunch of those recipes in my arsenal! I use them a lot when having friends or family over for dinner.  We’ll start with this one:

Ginger Glazed Carrots

  • 1 lb baby carrots, washed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp butter
  • salt as desired

saucepan and steamer basket

Place steamer in saucepan, add enough water to come to the bottom of the steamer.  Add carrots, bring to a boil and steam until tender (about 5 minutes).  Remove carrots and steamer, drain water from the saucepan, add carrots and remaining ingredients to saucepan and stir on low heat until carrots are coated with honey and butter.  Serve immediately.

No Thursday Recipe Exchange

Yeah, I know, you’re all sooooo disappointed. I have reason, I just can’t share that reason with you yet. But safe to say, in the coming month(s) there will be some exciting What’s 4 Dinner Solutions’ news. That’s right there is something cookin’. I’ll share as soon as I’m able.

No food, but how about some pretty scenery? Click on any photo to start the slide show.