I know. A salsa recipe! From ME! It’s shocking. I’ll give you a minute while you collect yourself.
This one comes courtesy of my BFF’s boyfriend, and it is so good. Very different from my usual roasted salsa roja, and perfect for right now when the tomatoes are in season and easy to find. Around here we can still find a farmer with a card table of tomatoes and a cigar box for cash sitting out at the end of the driveway. Best tomatoes in the world!
Anyway, the salsa is also easily customizable, so you can make it anywhere from diced tomatoes to melt-your-face-off hot (which, you’ve probably figured out by now, is my preferred level of heat).
- 6 Roma tomatoes
- 1 medium-large white onion
- 3 serrano peppers
- 1 bunch cilantro*
- salt, and black pepper to taste
- 3 large limes
- Dice tomatoes, onion, and peppers and stir together in a bowl
- Chop the cilantro and add in
- Add salt and pepper, then squeeze in the juice from the limes
- Stir, and enjoy! The longer it sits, the hotter it gets — just something to keep in mind
*A note on cilantro: for the last three years or so I kind of hate it (pregnancy was weird), so the first time I made this myself I just left it out. And I MISSED it. It really makes that much of a difference, so my advice is to try just a little bit in it even if you think you hate it.
Random: this reminds me so much of the now-defunct Salsa Y’all. Does anyone else remember that?
I am really, really lucky.
And by really, really lucky I mean I live about a mile away from Martin’s BBQ Joint. This is nationally acclaimed BBQ practically in my back yard!
One of my favorite things there (which is a pretty major decision; it’s all amazing) is the Alabama white sauce. It’s incredible on Martin’s smoked wings, but it’s also incredible on turkey sandwiches, meatballs, you name it. Fortunately Pat Martin shared the recipe with Garden & Gun a while back, so I get to make it at home now, too. I scale it way down to 1/4 of his recipe (see below); you can see Pat’s original proportions here.
Alabama white sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke’s)
- 5 ounces cider vinegar
- 3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
- 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt (heaping)
- 1/2 tbsp. black pepper (heaping)
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Stir it all together (I use a whisk), then store in a squeeze bottle or Mason jar
- Add to everything you can think of.
As discussed here over honey mustard, I’m still new to liking mayonnaise. One of my favorite things about liking mayo, though, is pimento cheese. It COMPLETES me. I always have some in the fridge now. Pimento cheese on Wheat Thins? Possibly a perfect snack.
My very favorite kind of pimento cheese is Palmetto Cheese, which is made with mayo and cream cheese. The cream cheese gives it a little extra thickness and tang and it’s just so, so good. When I heard Damaris Phillips mention on TV that she made her pimento cheese with cream cheese, I knew this was a recipe I had to try. I change hers up just a bit, using sharp yellow cheddar and adding some hot sauce; it’s a definite staple in my house now.
Pimento cream cheese
- 4 ounces softened cream cheese
- 2 ounces mayonnaise (I use Duke’s or homemade)
- 8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
- 4 ounces diced pimento (one small jar)
- Hot sauce to taste (I use Louisiana)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Mix together cream cheese and mayo until thoroughly combined
- Add in cheese and pimento and stir till well mixed
- Add hot sauce, salt, and pepper, tasting as you go till it’s perfect to you!
If you haven’t yet, you really must try mixing pimento cheese into your scrambled eggs. I also love it on the afore-mentioned Wheat Thins, and of course pimento cheese sandwiches. How do y’all eat it?
I cannot, for the life of me, remember where I originally found this recipe. It’s been saved in my Evernote for years, simply titled The Meatball Recipe, and I use it a lot. These have great flavor and never dry out on me.
It’s a great go-to recipe because it works for so many different seasons and occasions! I love it any time of year served with dipping sauces: barbecue, sweet chili, and ketchup all work great. They can be grilled in the summer when it’s too hot to fire up the oven. They’re obviously good to throw in a big batch of spaghetti and meatballs, but I also like to divide them up and freeze them in little baggies of three each so I can add them into quick pasta/tomato sauce lunches — instant protein add!
How would YOU use these?
The meatball recipe
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp minced fresh Italian parsley
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 lb 80% lean ground beef.
- Preheat oven to 425F
- Stir together Panko, eggs, water, cheese, garlic, parsley, seasoning, salt and pepper in a large bowl
- Add beef and mix by hand until just barely combined
- Scoop up meat mixture and gently roll into meatballs
- Bake on baking sheet, 1 1/2 inches apart, for 15 minutes or until internal temp is 165F
After talking and hemming and hawing about it forever I finally bought a cookie press. It’s so much fun! I can’t believe I waited so long. I just had to try cheese straws first, and they were fantastic.
They also kind of made me want to wear a big hat and drink mint juleps, but that’s for another day.
The cookie press I bought came with a recipe book with this recipe included; I changed it to use butter instead of margarine, because yuck.
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, graded
- 3/4 cup butter, well softened
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp hot sauce (I used Louisiana)
- 1 3/4 cups flour, sifted
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you like the heat)
- Preheat oven 400 F
- Blend cheese, butter, egg and hot sauce and set aside
- Sift together flour and spices, then knead into butter mixture, either by hand or in a food processor with the metal blade
- Use cookie press with star disk, or pipe out of ziptop bag onto ungreased cookie sheet, and bake for 10-13 minutes until golden brown. Remove immediately to cooling rack; store in airtight container when completely cooled
By the way, show of hands: who has had cheese straws before? Turns out my lived-in-the-South-all-her-life friend Vanessa had never had them. What about y’all?
My sister made these for us one Christmas at her house. We were combining a bunch of appetizers and calling it a meal, but this was the one everyone kept coming back to. So tasty! And they were good hot and after they had cooled down, too, which is a lovely characteristic for an appetizer to have.
Anything else you would add to these? The kick from the Ro*tel is awesome, but I wonder what other flavors might be fun to work in?
Sausage cream cheese squares
- 1 lb. sausage
- 1 block cream cheese
- 1 can Ro*tel, drained
- 2 cans crescent rolls
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
Put a frying pan over medium/high heat and brown and crumble sausage; drain any grease
Turn heat down to low and mix in cream cheese till melted
Drain Ro*tel and stir in
Roll out 1 package of crescent rolls flat onto the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Top with cream cheese mixture, sprinkle with cheddar cheese, and top with other package of crescent roll dough
Bake at 375 for 20 minutes
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Out of desperation comes one of my favorite new snacks! Isn’t that often the way?
My friend Traci made me some firecrackers (fire crackers? Two words?) last summer and was kind enough to scribble down the recipe for me. I made some more of them last week but was trying to talk myself into something more substantial than crackers for lunch, when it occurred to me I had a cold roasted chicken in the fridge. Enter inspiration.
I shredded the chicken, tossed it in some ranch dressing, and put that on top of the firecrackers. It’s spicy with the peppers and cool with the ranch chicken, and oh so tasty!
Ranch chicken firecrackers
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 package dry ranch seasoning
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 3-4 Tbsp. crushed red pepper, depending on your spice preference
- 3 sleeves saltine crackers
- Cold, cooked, shredded chicken
- Enough bottled ranch dressing to lightly coat chicken (these last two depend on how much you want to make, obviously)
- Add oil, seasoning, spices, and crushed pepper into a one-gallon zip top bag; seal the top and mush it all around till everything is well combined
- Add in the crackers and shake them around a little to coat them with the oil and spice mixture
- Let it all sit in the bag for a good 12 hours or so, flipping the bag over any time you think of it, till all the mixture is absorbed into the crackers
- Once those are ready, just shred some cooked chicken with a fork (leftovers are your friend, here), toss it in as much ranch as you like, and put that on top of your firecrackers. So good!