Archive for the ‘Cupboard Keepers’ Category

Everyday Salsa

In Cooking, Cupboard Keepers, Uncategorized on August 8, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Right now I am having a hard time thinking about salsa. We made the Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce from the Pioneer Woman‘s website click here. Sigh. It was a treat. It’s really all I can think about at this moment.

But, alas I will share my thoughts on salsa. Love it. Eat tons of it. Picky about it. Seriously, my Aunt Teresa ruined us on the salsa topic at a very young age. She always makes it for any family meal we eat. She makes extra and sends it home with you. Store bought just can’t compete! Trust me I have literally tried hundreds of bottled salsas – it does nothing for me. So in my early years of cooking, years ago – wow, I called, and emailed, and called, asked again, and again making her walk me through her recipe dozen of times. Now I make my own, just as you should adapt the recipe to your own tastes and standards, but believe me it’s easy and worth the short effort!!

Everyday Salsa

  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Diced Tomatoes, drained (can use whole, petite, etc.)
  • 1 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (Hot, or Regular, or Mild)
  • 1 clove Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 – 2 whole Jalapeno, roughly chopped (or Serrano)
  • 1/4 cup to whole jar pickled Jalapeno, drained (hot, or regular…)
  • 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder (or 1/4 cup fresh chopped onion)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt (more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin, optional
  • handful of  Cilantro (more to taste)
  • juice of half a lime

*Note: I make this in my large food processor, but it can be processed in a smaller unit (4-cup, blender, etc.) in batches and combined in a larger vessel.

Directions: Combine fresh and pickled jalapeno, garlic, roughly chopped onion (if using fresh), and cilantro. Process until ingredients are finely chopped, if you like chunkier salsa – you can dice ingredients and skip this step.  Now add drained can of diced tomatoes, onion powder (if not using fresh onion – I don’t),  salt, pepper, cumin, and lime juice in a blender or food processor and pulse until you reach the desired consistency.  I like mine to be a fairly even texture. Taste and add more salt or other ingredients until you love it. Remember this stuff gets better with time.

Transfer to your storage container (I use a large pickle jar I washed out 😉 ) and refrigerate salsa for at least one hour, but it is best if made a day ahead. (The flavor will bloom as the mixture rests.)

I keep this salsa on hand in my fridge for everyday eats. Sometimes I make it mild and other times I add more fresh chiles and get it really hot.  My Aunt’s is very similar – though she doesn’t use Rotel. If you use spicy peppers the heat will also bloom as you let the salsa rest . Another way we love to eat it is with fire-roasted tomatoes, extra garlic, sometimes we use shallots or don’t use lime.  My favorite thing about this is that I have most of these things on hand everyday and it taste so much better than the vinegary mess that is pumped full of preservatives.  Chips and salsa is one of the best things on Earth. Hope you enjoy it, adapt it, and share it! – EO


Weekly Boozer/Cupboard Keeper: Gin & Tonic

In Cupboard Keepers, Uncategorized, Weekly Boozer on March 5, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Gin is by far not the most popular of libations on the market.  If you are not a fan, by all means disregard the recipe, but not the tonic water.  I personally love gin – especially the smell (no I didn’t eat glue as a child, why do you ask?).  A good Gin & Tonic is one of my favorite cocktails.  Not only is it delicious, but it only has three ingredients and is incredibly simple to make.

Gin is liquor prominently flavored by juniper berries; however, depending on the brand or type of gin you purchase it could be accented by lemon, orange, anise, cinnamon, lime, coriander, or any other variation of spices.  Choosing a gin which you like is essential – after all there are only three ingredients at work here and that makes them all very important.  I am currently drinking Bombay Sapphire, but also enjoy Tanqueray (which is called a “T & T”) and Hendrick’s Gin.

Ingredient #2 brings me to the Cupboard Keeper side of things:

Tonic Water.  It is a carbonated soft drink in which quinine and sugar is dissolved, and is consumed for its distinctively bitter taste.  My favorite is Q Tonic, since we moved I can not purchase it locally, and so stock up when I see it.  This is my second choice (Fever Tree – which has lots of awesome products!!!)  and I am sure there are other great tonics out there… but having a good quality tonic can take this cocktail from being mediocre to fabulous – as well as other beverages which call for the ingredient.  That is why for me it is a cupboard keeper! Especially for the liquor cabinet… if you have it on hand you can serve up a classy cocktail for guests in no time!


Gin & Tonic:

Depending on your preferences this drink can be made in ratio of 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, or 2:3
2 ounces Gin
4 ounces Tonic
about 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice (lime wedge to garnish if desired)
and ice

Directions: Place the ice cubes in a glass with the ice coming near the top. Squeeze in fresh lime juice, followed by gin and top with tonic water. Stir well; Garnish with lime wedge, and serve immediately.

Sure it’s not the fanciest cocktail you’ll ever make, but it is: quick, easy, and delicious.  So why complicate things? Here’s hoping there is Gin & Tonic in your future – or at least some good quality tonic water 😉

Cupboard Keepers: Agave Nectar

In Cupboard Keepers, Uncategorized on January 17, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Agave Nectar is a liquid sweetener which is less thick than honey and maple syrup, but has a sweeter taste (about 1.5x sweeter).   Perks of using Agave include it’s a natural sweetener extracted from the Agave plant, it has the lowest glycemic index of all the sweeteners (low immediate effect on blood sugar), it has a long shelf life (won’t crystallize), and it dissolves quickly in hot and cold liquids.   Of course, like all sugars Agave should be used in moderation as it is a fructose product.  I have not used Agave for baking yet, but apparently compared to other alternative sweetness (like stevia) it has no shortcomings.

Agave Nectar ranges from light to dark.  Light has a very neutral flavor making it perfect to flavor sauces and beverages, while the amber (medium) has almost a caramel flavor.  I have not purchased dark before, but apparently it has a strong caramel flavor and is used for meat, coffee, baking, and is sometimes used as a substitute for syrup on pancakes and waffles.  Agave can be used in any recipe, use 3/4 cup Agave per 1 cup of other sweetener.

I love this stuff!  It is my go to sweetener for tea, greek yogurt, and I often substitute it when honey is called for in a recipe.

Cupboard Keepers: Potato Starch

In Baking, Cooking, Cupboard Keepers, Uncategorized on January 10, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Corn starch is generally more popular in homes, it is easier to find, more widely known and well basically serves the same function for most cooks (thicken sauces, soups, and etc.).  Why potato starch then?

Well the top reasons, for me, are potato starch can tolerate much higher temperatures and doesn’t clump up like corn starch.  In my experience it has a more neutral flavor, sauces thickened with potato starch re-heat better (consistency wise), and if used in a batter it fries better than cornstarch.  This is the south…. frying is important! 🙂  Potato starch is also called for in some baked goods to add moistness.  I guess for me it is simply easier to have the one that does more. So far this has been a superior starch in my kitchen and I like to always keep some in the cupboard.  If you haven’t tried it before I hope you do.

P.S. if you don’t see potato starch near the corn starch, check with the specialty flours.

Cupboard Keepers: Rooster Sauce

In Cupboard Keepers, Uncategorized on December 9, 2010 at 4:34 am

“Rooster Sauce” which is better known by sriracha is a lovely condiment made from sun ripen chilies which are ground into a smooth paste along with garlic.  Many people call it Rooster Sauce either for lack of ability to pronounce sriracha and because there is a giant rooster on the front of bottle.  This delicious sauce is the perfect condiment to add a little spicy taste to anything from soup to barbecue.  I personally love it on barbecue, use it to make hot wings and well my Chinese takeout would never be the same without it.  I love to give it as gifts (after I gave it to my Father it became his favorite roast topping) and it makes for some fun experimental cooking!

One of my favorites is Sriracha Mayo:

3 Tablespoons mayo

1 Tablespoons Huy Fong Sriracha

1 teaspoon lemon/lime juice

1/4 teaspoon soy sauce

salt & pepper to taste

In bowl, combine ingredients until smooth.

Use as dip or spread for your favorite dishes (works great with anything from french fries to fish cakes); or give it an extra kick with some minced fresh cilantro – yum!

Sriracha Glaze:

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp  Huy Fong Sriracha sauce

zest of one orange

4 tbsp cup fresh squeezed orange juice

1 tbsp olive oil

small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked

In a bowl, combine the honey, sriracha, orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, and thyme leaves; stir until thoroughly mixed.  Spoon onto seasoned (salt & pepper) meat of your choice & bake.

Other Ideas:

  • Add a couple teaspoons of sriracha to your favorite deviled egg recipe;
  • Spicy Sriracha Bread;
  • Spice up your Bloody Mary with this instead of Tabasco or horseradish;
  • make your own BBQ Sauce; or
  • spice up your salad dressing – Sriracha Ranch sounds good to me!!!

Sriracha is quickly gaining in popularity and availability has increased both in markets and restaurants.  If you don’t have some on hand in your house I highly recommend you get some.  Not only is this stuff delightful, but it’s inexpensive too! Enjoy 🙂