Tequila Cilantro Pesto

I LOVE cilantro. Love. It’s my favorite color (not that that’s unique), and it just smells so fresh and amazing. It smells like warm weather and sunshine. And anyone who knows me knows how I feel about warm weather. And hot weather. Oh yeah, and it tastes fantastic too. So I made it into a pesto and added some bite–tequila!

pesto1This particular evening I slathered it on tortillas to make “green tacos” with chicken, spinach, and avocado. But I could also see covering some chicken with it whether baked in the oven or cooked on the grill. Or on pizza. Or pasta. You know, the usual pesto recipients. Depending upon what you want to use it for, just adjust the amount of olive oil or use reserved pasta water to create the consistency you want.

pesto5If I wasn’t hoping a certain toddler was going to partake in the pesto (no, he didn’t have any–no tequila for this two year old!), I would have also added in some chile pepper. Although, as long as I glob sour cream on it I don’t think he would care….

Tequila Cilantro Pesto

Adapted from Simply Recipes

2 cups packed cilantro leaves

1/2 cup almonds

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon salt

dash of cayenne

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon tequila (more if you want!)

If you want to be super fancy, toast those almonds in a dry skillet on the stove until fragrant. Toss the cilantro, almonds, garlic, salt and cayenne into a food processor and pulse. With the processor running, stream in the olive oil, lime juice and tequila. Taste and adjust seasonings, tequila, or oil accordingly.

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Olive Cheddar Beer Bread

This is merely a riff on a standard classic.

bread1Beer bread is one of my favorite things to take to someone’s house for whatever event we happen to be celebrating: birthdays, baptisms, Thursday–it always works. Chances are they will not have made some themselves (unless you’re coming to my house) and it won’t be competing against the food they’ve prepared. Others will bring chips and hummus and cookies, and it’s an item that stands on its own.

bread2Of course, I know I’ve posted a beer bread before. This just shows off how endlessly and effortlessly adaptable beer bread can be. Sláinte!

Olive Cheddar Beer Bread

Adapted from Simon & Garfunkel Beer Bread

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup green olives, chopped

12 oz. (1 bottle) beer

1 egg

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, parsley, garlic powder in a medium/large bowl. I like to aerate it at this time and just stir it all together with a whisk. Add in the cheese and olives and stir, covering all pieces with flour to assure they don’t stick together in a clump. Pour in the beer and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter in a greased loaf pan, spreading it out evenly. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a little tap water. Brush the egg glaze over the top of the bread batter. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Bourbon Caramelized Onion Dip

Of course I can’t make a normal dip. A regular dip. Sure, there are other ways to amp up your flavor. But bourbon is delicious. Caramelized onions are delicious. And bourbon caramelized onions are ridiculous.

dip1I think the onions get sweet enough on their own, but you can add in a teaspoon or two of brown sugar if you’d like. I also like to add in that extra tablespoon kick of bourbon at the very end, because “raw” bourbon is going to hit your tongue differently than cooked bourbon.

dip2This is my “oops, I was supposed to take pictures!” photo shoot…

Caramelized Onion Dip

Adapted from A Spicy Perspective

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 large onions, chopped, at least sliced thin

1 teaspoon salt

cayenne pepper to taste

1/4 cup bourbon

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon bourbon

Melt the olive oil and butter together over medium-high heat. Add the onions and stir. Reduce heat to medium or medium-low. After 10 minutes add the salt. Keep cooking and stirring for 30 more minutes until the onions are a deep brown color. Add the 1/4 cup bourbon and cook for 10 more minutes. Set aside to cool.

Combine the cooled onions, softened cream cheese, sour cream, worcestershire sauce, and remaining tablespoon of bourbon in a food processor. Dip, dip, dip.

Jalapeno Cheddar Pull-apart Beer Bread

I am quite the active yeast novice. Which sounds gross.

But I just haven’t yet mastered the art of working with yeast doughs. They end up being sticky messes that I can’t control. And I end up saying choice words and throwing things around the kitchen. (Truth. Ask my husband.)

These breads intimidate me with their mystical rise and we never get to develop our relationship because I’m too scared and I’ve been beaten too many times. But this bread. This bread. I had to try. How could one not?

And what happened? My dough was a sticky mess. I said some choice words and banged some stuff around the kitchen. But I didn’t give up. I covered my dough back up and put it in the refrigerator to work its magic overnight. Well, magic didn’t happen. But enough of a spark was there that my bread still puffed up nicely in the oven. And it was still tasty. Was it tender and flaky and perfect like I want it to be? Yeah, right. But we’ll get there. Was it worth it? Oh, yes.

Jalapeno Cheddar Pull-apart Beer Bread

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Dough

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup beer divided

2 cups plus 1/2 and 1/3 cup flour, divided

2 tablespoons sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, room temperature

Heat the butter and the first 1/4 cup of beer together in a small saucepan until the butter has melted. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of beer and set aside to cool.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, blend together the first 2 cups of flour with the sugar, yeast, and salt. On the lowest setting, mix in the butter and beer mixture until it is just incorporated. Add eggs on at a time, then add the remaining flour. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 3 or 4 minutes. Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl and cover loosely with a towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled, about an hour.

Filling

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon mustard

3 oz cream cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

fresh ground peppper

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

2 jalapenos, diced

Melt the butter, mustard, and cream cheese together in the small saucepan. Take off of the heat and whisk in the seasonings.

Assembly!

Prepare your loaf pan by greasing it with method of choice. Roll out your dough on a well floured surface to approximately a 20×12 inch rectangle. Brush your filling all over the dough. Cut your dough (I use a pizza cutter) lengthwise into five 4×12 inch strips. Sprinkle one strip with approximately 1/4 cup of cheese and diced jalapenos. Place another strip on top and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup of cheese and jalapenos. Repeat until all the dough strips, cheese and jalapenos have been used.

With a serrated knife, very gently cut the stack of strips in 6 two-inch segments. (I find it easiest to cut the entire strip in half, then cut the two halves into thirds.) Stand the loaf pan up on its short end so it stands vertical, and stack all of your segments on top of each other. Cover loosely with saran wrap or towel and let rise for another 30-45 minutes.

Cook!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. After its final rise, cook for 25-35 minutes. Wait at least 5 minutes for it to cool, then pull that deliciousness apart and enjoy!

See Smitten Kitchen for another look at assembly and baking instructions.

Bloody Mary Gazpacho

I have been receiving the most beautiful heirloom tomatoes in my CSA this late summer: red, green, yellow, orange, and some so deep they’re almost purple. Last weekend I literally thrived off of tomato basil sandwiches. So ridiculously simple and sooo delicious. I have to savor it while it lasts!

I never had gazpacho until recently. (Cold soup? That’s an oxymoron!) But I have to say, with the right tomatoes, and other seasonal freshness, I could definitely become a fan. But even when enjoying some fresh gazpacho, I knew it could be improved–with vodka! I used Sloop Betty, a wheat vodka distilled right here in Maryland. Once Betty was added, it was my kind of gazpacho.

Gazpacho is also a highly flexible dish according to your own personal tastes. Some people want it chunky, some want it smooth, some want it spicy, others are weird. The amount of tomatoes you use may depend on how fresh and juicy they are, so be adaptable. Some people want a  little vodka, others want a lot. But definitely use vodka, because-seriously. Why wouldn’t you?

Bloody Mary Gazpacho

1.5 pounds tomatoes

1 cucumber, seeded

1 green or red sweet pepper

1 spicy pepper (I used serrano)

1 small onion

2-3 cloves of garlic

3 tablespoons vinegar (I used red wine)

1 teaspoon celery salt

2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce

fresh ground pepper

vodka, to taste

Cut vegetables into smaller chunks, toss everything into a bowl and take your handy immersion blender and go at it. Alternately, you can use a food processor or regular blender and blend in two batches. Cover and refrigerate overnight for the best results so that the flavors have time to meld together. Add vodka to taste when ready to serve.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme: Simon & Garfunkel Beer Bread

A couple weeks ago we threw our little one a Simon and Garfunkel themed Second birthday party. That’s right. Every toddler’s dream.

The first birthday was centered around the Beatles (1-compilation album=perfect!). I made yellow submarine sandwiches with I am the eggman egg salad and I am the walrus tuna salad; Strawberry fields salad; Bungalow Bills Buffalo Wings; Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Dip (roasted red pepper dip); Watching the Pinwheels (tortilla roll ups); Piggies (pigs in the blanket); A Taste of Honey (literally just a bottle of honey with a spoon); and my personal favorite-The Salad of John and Yoko (a pasta salad).

But this year, it was all about my favorite music group of all time. I found it slightly more challenging to correlate food to the serious Simon and Garfunkel tunes, but I felt proud of the outcome.

Mrs. Wagner Pies (black bean cheddar and spinach ricotta empanadas); I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail (tortilla roll ups again, this time up on their sides); boysenberry jam-on english muffins of course; The Dips that are Green (avocado hummus and pesto dip). And a parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme beer bread with a garlic compound butter.

I’m sure you only wish you had a second birthday half as awesome.

Simon and Garfunkel Beer Bread

Adapted from Farmgirl Fare

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 garlic gloves, minced

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

12 oz. (1 bottle) beer

1 egg

Garlic Butter

1 stick salted butter, softened at room temperature

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme in a medium/large bowl. I like to aerate it at this time and just stir it all together with a whisk. Add in the garlic and cheese and stir, covering all pieces with flour to assure it doesn’t stick together in a clump. Pour in the beer and stir until just combined.

Pour the batter in a greased loaf pan, spreading it out evenly. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a little tap water. Brush the egg glaze over the top of the bread batter. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

In a small bowl, mix butter, garlic and parsley together. Reserve to spread on your super delicious Simon & Garfunkel beer bread!

Beer Cheese Dip

To continue the trend from last week’s Corrupted Soup, I may still be on a beer and cheese kick.  Well, let’s face it–when am I not on a beer and cheese kick?!

But here it is-your quintessential party snack. I’ve been making this for years because it’s delicious, addictive, and ridiculously easy.  I guess that’s what happens when you take cheese, add more cheese, and then pour in some herbs and beer.

In my past life, I used to make it with those dry ranch packets. Ranch anything makes me happy. The only way fries are to be eaten are when doused in hot sauce and dipped in ranch dressing. Fact. But did you know those packets have msg in them? Gross. So I now take the 1-2 extra minutes effort to measure out my own spices. Worth it.

This dip is great with tortilla chips, regular chips, hard pretzels, bread, vegetables, and my personal favorite-soft pretzels fresh out of the oven. Do it.

Beer Cheese Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened room temperature

2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon dried dill

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

beer

Throw all ingredients except beer into a food processor and blend until fully combined. Start by adding 1/4 cup of beer and pulse; add more to reach desired dipping consistency. (I usually don’t measure, but I believe I usually end up using about 1/3 cup.) Drink rest of the beer and dip away!

*Note: This can totally be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Just be sure to let it sit out at room temp for a while before you need it so the dip becomes soft again.