Entries Tagged as 'recipes'

February 10, 2012

recipe of the week | homemade hot salsa

I really like dips. Queso haunts my dreams, and my mom makes an unbelievable crab dip.

While both of those are incredibly delicious, they’re not exactly the healthiest dip options to constantly have in your fridge. A staple dip in my apartment, though, is homemade salsa. The teacher man and I take turns making salsa every other week, and while mine is usually spicier (I’m a hothead!), we both follow a similar recipe, adapted from his mother’s homemade salsa recipe.

We brought our homemade salsa to my friend Gina’s Super Bowl party last weekend, and it was a hit! It made me happy to hear that Gina’s hubby was excited that I left the salsa there for everyone to enjoy after we left, and I’m hoping it makes him even happier that I’m sharing the hot version of the recipe today so he can pester Gina to make it for him whenever he gets a salsa craving. (Adapt the ingredients to your spice level!)

kimberlyloc homemade hot salsa

{Sometimes I just eat this homemade hot salsa by the spoonful.}

Homemade Hot Salsa


1 pound/16 ounces organic crushed tomatoes
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 of a small onion, chopped
1/4 of a medium red jalapeno, chopped (keep seeds for extra heat)
1/4 of a medium green jalapeno, chopped (keep seeds for extra heat)
1 habanero pepper (discard half the seeds for less heat)
1/2 the juice of a lime, fresh squeezed
Small spoonful of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon California Seasoned Pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I use Penzey’s Very Hot Crushed Red Pepper, but it’s not listed online)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash of Spanish Style Smoked Paprika
Dash of Mexican Seasoning
Dash of oregano
Dash of Tabasco or Cholula (I prefer Cholula)
Dash of olive oil (optional)
Dash of apple cider vinegar (optional)

1. Pour the crushed tomatoes into a large bowl. Set aside.

2. Chop the cilantro, onion, green pepper and jalapenos. If you want a finer salsa (less chunky), pulse these ingredients in a food processor with a little olive oil. Dump into the bowl of crushed tomatoes and mix.

3. Add all the spices into the bowl, mix together and enjoy! It’s usually better the next day because the crushed tomatoes have had time to absorb all the spices. Enjoy!

What dips do you love? Have any refrigerator staples? Tell me your favorites in the comments section.

December 16, 2011

recipe of the week | homemade holiday sangria

Every year at Christmas, I embrace the boozey-little-sister persona and bring home ingredients to make a delicious holiday drink.

My mother, who doesn’t drink, always raises her eyes at me as I’m mixing away and messing up her kitchen, but she always takes a sip of whatever I’m making and is usually pleasantly surprised. (Except for last year, when the teacher man and I made bloody marys, which she took one sip, made a funny face and declared that it was the worst thing she’d ever tasted. That was her first and last bloody mary experience.)

This year, I have no doubt that she will like the simple holiday sangria I’m planning to prepare. I’m bringing home the 1-liter carton of cabernet sauvignon that my friends at CalNaturale sent me and mixing up a pitcher of fruity yet not-too-sweet holiday sangria.

calnaturale chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon

{You can make a simple, budget-friendly red or white sangria with CalNaturale's 1-liter cartons of wine, which cost $12.99 a carton. Photo Courtesy CalNaturale}

The best part about this recipe? It serves 10 for less than $20 — and it’s organic! CalNaturale uses organically grown grapes for its wine. Combined with organic fruits and sweeteners, your holiday sangria is one mixed drink you can feel good about putting in your body (just keep some water and ibuprofen around for later).

homemade holiday sangria

{Want to warm up your sangria just a bit? Add a dash of cinnamon! Photo By colonnade/Courtesy Flickr}

Homemade Holiday Sangria
Serves 10


1 liter CalNaturale cabernet sauvignon
1/2 cup organic pomegranate seeds (or substitute splash of pomegranate juice)
1 organic navel orange, halved and slice
1 organic Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced into wedges
1 1/2 tablespoons pure organic maple syrup
3 cups seltzer, chilled
1 cup ginger ale, chilled
2 tablespoons organic sugar
Splash of organic orange juice

In a pitcher, combine the wine, orange juice, pomegranate seeds, orange, apple and maple syrup; refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. Stir in the seltzer and ginger ale. Serve over ice.

Do you drink with the family during the holidays? What are you planning on making this season? Tell me about your holiday traditions (booze or no booze) in the comments section.

December 12, 2011

recipe of the week | caribbean jerk chicken | food network

I’ve been back from my St. Lucia vacation for a week, and though I was unable to bring the beautiful weather back to cold Kansas, I was able to bring a little bit of Caribbean flavor into my home.

The first meal the teacher man and I had together when I got home was a tasty adaption of this Caribbean Jerk Chicken recipe. I ventured out to Penzeys to pick up some Caribbean jerk seasoning to combine with my other herbs and spices (namely salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, chives and, because I’m a hothead, extra cayenne).

caribbean jerk seasoning penzeys spices

{Caribbean jerk seasoning from Penzeys Spices is made up of ginger, ancho chili pepper, brown sugar, garlic, paprika, allspice, lemongrass, thyme, nutmeg, Tellicherry black pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper and jalapeno.}

The teacher man and I decided against the butter sauce and bananas in this recipe and instead chose to add a simple salad and save room for dessert (although I usually never decline butter!). The recipe called for the chicken breasts to be dipped in red wine; we opted to soak them in a bit of California Zinfandel before dipping them in the savory spices.

Zin pairs perfectly with peppery Caribbean jerk seasoning; I was especially excited about this bottle because, even though it’s a California red, the peaks on the bottle reminded me of St. Lucia’s famous landmark, the Pitons.

ancient peaks california zinfandel

{This bottle of Ancient Peaks Zinfandel was about $15 and had a decent rating.}

We used a simple grill pan to sear the chicken breasts and then finished them off in a cast iron skillet in the oven. The turnout was perfect: Juicy, spicy chicken with enough heat to keep us warm in these below-freezing nights! The best part, though? This is a simple, easy dinner for weeknights that won’t take too much of your precious evening time!

caribbean jerk chicken

{We made enough for lunch the next day, too — heated up just fine in the microwave without 1) exploding or 2) losing too much juiciness.}

What are some of your favorite warming foods? What recipes are your easy weeknight go-to’s? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!

September 26, 2011

recipe of the week | homemade pumpkin spice latte | the kitchn

It’s officially fall and I’ve yet to have a pumpkin spice latte — from Starbucks. Instead of spending $4 for a cup of pumpkin-flavored syrup, milk and espresso, I decided it’d be more fun and frugal to make my own pumpkin spice latte.

After making Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies with a can of organic pumpkin, I had about a cup of leftovers. What do you do with a cup of leftover pumpkin mush? You mix it with milk, coffee, sugar, vanilla and spices and drink it!

I searched for homemade pumpkin spice latte recipes and found one from one of my favorite websites, The Kitchn. It took all of about five minutes to make and yielded about two cups of the best pumpkin drink ever. I substituted “pumpkin pie spice” with my own concoction of ground ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cloves would have rounded out the flavor, but hey, you use what you have on hand!

ingredients for homemade pumpkin spice latte

{Just a few simple ingredients go into a pumpkin spice latte. Notice there is no bottle of syrup!}

stirring pumpkin and milk

{Heat the pumpkin and milk on the stovetop and stir, stir, stir!}


{I'm not cosmopolitan enough to own an espresso machine, so I just made a quick cup of "Dark Magic" Green Mountain Coffee in my Keurig.}

mixing homemade pumpkin spice latte

{While my homemade latte lacked the nice froth of a professional latte, I had fun whipping the coffee, pumpkin, milk and spices together. Bubbles were almost as good as froth!}

pumpkin spice latte

{Sweet success! My organic pumpkin spice latte was a great afternoon pick-me-up.}

What’s your go-to coffee drink?

July 25, 2011

on the menu | simple weeknight meals from self magazine

Last week wasn’t my best cooking week. Sometimes, during the hustle and bustle of busy days and late nights, I am just a little uninspired to do even the most simple grocery shopping and instead rely on takeout and boring sandwiches to get through the week.

This week, though, after devouring a new issue of Self magazine, I’m ready to plot out a few cooking adventures (with just a couple nights off for a much-anticipated date and Friday night party with friends).

Monday: Pasta with Sausage and Red Grapes

pasta with sausage and red grapes shape magazine 6 sweet suppers

{Pasta is a staple in my kitchen — such a simple base for flavorful meals, such as this Pasta with Sausage and Red Grapes from Self magazine. Photo Courtesy Self magazine}

I’m excited to try this recipe (and two others) from Self magazine’s recent feature, “6 Sweet Suppers.” I love the story angle — simple dinners that incorporate fresh summer fruits into the main course — not just as a side dish or dessert. I can’t wait to experience the taste of juicy red grapes and savory sausage — I’ll be getting some fresh sausage from the local Italian grocer near my workplace.

Tuesday: Dinner at 715 in Lawrence, Kansas

715 restaurant lawrence kansas

{It's been a while since I've been to 715 — glad that's going to change on Tuesday!}

OK, so maybe I’m not cooking on Tuesday night, but I’m not passing up the opportunity to dine at my favorite restaurant in my old college town with my favorite person — the teacher man. From artisan pizzas to handmade pastas, 715 is always worth the drive to Lawrence.

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken and Peach Salad

grilled chicken and peach salad self magazine 6 sweet suppers

{This light, refreshing salad is perfect for cooling us down at dinner after all the record-breaking heat we've been having in the Midwest. Photo Courtesy Self magazine}

I have been finding every way possible to weave peaches into my diet this summer. Peaches are a staple summer fruit — a good rival to watermelon, which is just a tad too messy to deal with on a weekly basis. I’ll be stocking up on peaches again during my next food run at the farmer’s market.

Thursday: Fish Tacos with Strawberry Salsa

fish tacos with strawberry salsa self magazine 6 sweet suppers

{Dress up your fish tacos with a sweet spread of strawberry salsa — yes please! Photo Courtesy Self magazine}

The teacher man and I make some sort of Spanish fair at least once a week — tacos, fajitas, salsa — you name it. It’s simple and satisfying. When I saw this recipe for Fish Tacos with Strawberry Salsa, I knew we had to get it into our regular rotation. Dressing up a simple white fish taco (cod, halibut or tilapia) is so simple with the right spices — and fruits! I’m looking forward to chopping up my new container of bright-red strawberries and heating it up a bit with fresh jalapenos to make this spicy strawberry salsa.

Friday: Blues, Beer and BBQ in Kansas City

smoked brisket

{Melt-in-your-mouth brisket awaits at the end of the week! Photo By VirtualEm/Courtesy Flickr}

Barbecue is just one of those things I’ll leave to the pros in Kansas City. The teacher man and I will be joining friends and coworkers for a night out to celebrate a recent destination wedding, and what better way to say congrats to the newlyweds at home than with a real KC barbecue, blues and beer?

What’s on your menu this week?

July 22, 2011

recipe of the week | cheese and snack platter with pink peppercorn and thyme champagne cocktail

I love dining with Tabitha. As a food editor and enthusiast, Tabitha is always talking up the latest recipe she’s made, vegetables she’s grown or restaurants she’s tried. She knows the ins and outs of food — how to grow it, cook it, pair it and eat it — and it’s always a treat to munch on something the woman herself has put together, because it’s always done with the utmost love and detail.

When I visited her during a trip to New York last winter (catch up with my NYC posts here, here, here, here and here), she took me up to her humble Harlem apartment and fed me a plate of cheese before we hit a late-night comedy show. But this wasn’t just any cheese; it was cheese from an amazing creamery in Vermont that she was researching for an upcoming article she was putting together.

tabitha alterman cheese and snack platter

{It wasn't too difficult to polish off this platter before a night out on the town.}

Bottom Left: Landaff Creamery Landaff
Bottom Middle: Cabot Clothbound Cheddar
Bottom Right: Ploughgate Creamery Hartwell
Top Left: Von Trapp Farmstead Oma
Top Right: Jasper Hill Farm Bayley Hazen Blue

All of the cheeses were aged in Jasper Hill’s cheese caves in Vermont; I’d love to take a trip with the cheese queen herself to do further research!

In addition to the tasty cheeses Tab shared with me, she also paired them finely with some great snacks — including some delicious pickles she made herself!

Top Left: Tabitha’s Quick and Easy Nonstop Pickles
Top Middle: La Panzanella and Carr’s Crackers
Fresh Blackberries
Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly

In addition to all this goodness, she also made me the cutest, most “Tabitha” drink ever, a “Pink Peppercorn and Thyme Champagne Cocktail,” which I happily sipped and slurped until we had to leave to make it to our midnight show.

pink peppercorn thyme champagne cocktail

{A bit of bubbly, herbs and peppers makes for a fun evening cocktail.}

You can try out Tabitha’s concoction with the ingredients and recipe below:

Pink Peppercorn and Thyme Champagne Cocktail

Sugar cube
Few dashes of orange bitters
5 or so pink peppercorns
Sprig fresh thyme
Half-jigger (or more for sweeter flavor) of pink peppercorn thyme simple syrup (directions below)
Cava or other dry sparkling beverage

Combine all ingredients except sparkling beverage in a glass or pitcher. Pour in cava (or other dry sparkly beverage) at the end, stir and serve.

Pink Peppercorn Thyme Simple Syrup

Boil 1 cup raw sugar in one cup water with several sprigs of fresh thyme and a small handful of peppercorns. Strain after syrup cools.

What do you like to eat with your foodie friends? Any fun summer appetizer or drink recipes? Share them in the comments section!

July 19, 2011

recipe of the week | spicy cucumber salad with green bell peppers, garlic and onion

One of my favorite side dishes growing up was my mom’s spicy cucumber salad. It was a staple in our refrigerator and served at most meals (in addition to rice). I don’t know why it took me nearly seven years since leaving home to ask my mom how to make it. Last week, when I started craving spice and crunch, I knew I had to call my mom to figure out her ancient Chinese secret to making the best side dish ever: spicy cucumber salad with green peppers, garlic and onion.

spicy cucumber salad

{Spicy cucumber salad can now become a staple in my own refrigerator!}

It’s really quite simple and requires very few ingredients. Balance out your veggies according to what you want more of in the salad. I used three cucumbers, which was enough for three large Mason jars. I only had one bell pepper and one onion, so I spread those out amongst my jars. Choose whatever crunchy veggies you like — here’s what I used:

Green bell peppers (or whatever color you like)
White onions (again, choose whatever color you like)
Sliced jalapenos (I used jarred jalapenos instead of fresh ones — they seemed hotter to me.)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Equal parts water and vinegar
Crushed red peppers
Black pepper
Cayenne pepper

1. Peel your cucumbers (or keep the skin if you like) and slice them into thin coins. Make two piles, and add one pile to a large Mason jar.

2. Dice your onion into small chunks. Make two piles, and add one pile to your Mason jar.

3. Chop your bell pepper into small chunks. Make two piles, and add one pile to your Mason jar.

4. Pour equal parts vinegar and water into the Mason jar (the amount depends on the size of your jar).

5. Add in the other piles of cucumbers, onions and bell peppers.

6. Spice the jar with several dashes of black pepper, crushed red pepper and cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you want your cucumber salad.

7. Drop in the minced garlic.

8. Spoon in the sliced jalapenos — again, this is totally dependent on how spicy you like it. I added about two tablespoons.

9. Pour in more equal part of vinegar and water, depending on your jar size, leaving about half an inch of space in the jar.

10. Top the jar off with additional dashes of spice and gently stir.

11. Seal the jar with the canning lid and ring and store in the refrigerator for two days.

Your spicy cucumber salad should be ready to eat after that! The combination of vinegar’s acidity and all the spices will create a tangy, pickled spicy cucumber salad that is sure to become your favorite side dish, too.

Does your mom, Chinese or not, have a special recipe to share with me?

July 12, 2011

recipe of the week | peach and pancetta pizza with spinach, basil and goat cheese

I have many excuses for never wanting to make my own pizza crusts.

My apartment kitchen lacks enough countertop space.
I don’t own a rolling pin.
My ceilings are too low for pizza crust tossing.
It’s messy.
I’m lazy.

The last reason is probably the most valid reason. While I appreciate delicious homemade pizza crusts, I’m just too time-strapped in the evenings to make them myself. That’s why I buy pre-made, take-and-bake pizza crusts (I prefer thin and whole-wheat crusts) instead.

For an easy weeknight meal, try making Peach and Pancetta Pizza with Spinach, Basil and Goat Cheese. Juicy peaches are in season now (they’re everywhere at my local farmer’s market!) and provide a sweet contrast to savory bites of pancetta and goat cheese.

peach and pancetta pizza uncooked

{Pile on your favorite ingredients for a fun, easy weeknight meal!}

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is warming up, pile on the fresh ingredients to your homemade or store-bought crust. Here’s how I layered my pizza pie:

Thin layer of garlic-infused olive oil (use minced garlic + olive oil)
Thin layer of mozzarella cheese
Layer of 2 chopped peaches
Layer of 5-6 slices thin, chopped, cooked pancetta
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup ripped basil leaves
1/2 cup chunks of goat cheese

Slide your ready-to-cook pie directly onto the oven rack for a crispier crust. Bake it for 11 minutes, or until mozzarella and goat cheese have melted.

Remove the pizza from the oven and allow it to cool for three minutes. Then, slice, serve and savor the deliciousness! Enjoy with a glass of wine — I like chardonnay with this light summer pizza.

peach and pancetta pizza cooked

{Savory and sweet — my favorites}

What other fun pizza ingredient combinations do you recommend?

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