Smoky Cashew Dip

It’s been longer than I’d like to admit since I last posted a recipe here. I haven’t stopped cooking. It’s simply that I hadn’t made much until December that I had to write about, and we all know how busy December can be.

To motivate myself to write more, I came up with a new food goal for 2017. This year, I’m going to use up all the extraneous ingredients in my pantry. We all have them – those random ingredients that we buy for a single recipe, only to put the rest back into the cabinet, to be pushed back behind all the cans of tomatoes or boxes of pasta or canisters of cocoa powder (if you’re me). I’ve inventoried my pantry and refrigerator, and on my fridge is a list of all the ingredients that I have that I should use up. It’s more than a once-a-week cooking task. I doubt I’ll write about all of them, but I hope I’ll find some great things to share.

That said, I decided to make this recipe long before I decided on 2017’s food goal. I found this smoky cashew dip when I happened to read an email from Bon Appetit, which I usually don’t read. It’s my new favorite thing – by which I mean I’ve made it three times in the last week. I don’t eat dip, but I make an exception for this one, as it’s simply cashews, chiles in adobo sauce, water, and salt to taste.

Chiles in adobo sauce are something that recipes only use a tablespoon or two of, meaning I store the remainder in my fridge to hope that I can use before I feel obliged to throw it away. I’ve never used up an entire can, until now. (For those curious, I’ve brushed the adobo sauce on grilled pork before.) The chiles add a little spiciness and smokiness to the ground cashews. I generally can give or take cashews, but this dip makes it worth buying them.

Other things I like about this dip: it takes less than 5 minutes to make. It’s high in protein and fat (to make up for all the crackers you might eat it with). It’s also gluten-free and vegan.

Continue reading Smoky Cashew Dip

Aztec Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

To get back into ice cream making, I decided to make Aztec Hot Chocolate Ice Cream from The Perfect Scoop. It sounded rich and complex, very chocolate – something I’d love.

Did this ice cream live up to my expectations of it? Well, yes and no. I’ve made it more than once – a good sign, right? – but that was primarily because it was too spicy for us. Continue reading Aztec Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies

My friend Jill made Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies as part of a December cookie bake-off, and they sounded great. I had to try them. The cookies are basically chocolate snickerdoodles with cayenne mixed into the cinnamon sugar that coats the outside.

This was a pretty straightforward recipe to make. After I mixed together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt), I creamed margarine with sugar in a separate bowl with an electric hand mixer. I added the eggs, and gradually added the flour mixture. The recipe says to use heaping tablespoons to measure the dough. For some reason, I decided to eyeball it. I ended up getting a couple more than the 32-cookie yield the recipe said I should get.

{Edit: The second time I made these, I also got more cookies. Also, if your cream of tartar is old, your cookies won’t spread out. They’ll be little balls – delicious, but not the same. If they don’t spread out, still take them out at the right time – don’t overbake!}

You roll the dough into balls, and then roll them in the cinnamon-cayenne-sugar mixture. I have Indian “chilli powder” that I use in place of cayenne.  I didn’t know if it would be hotter than regular cayenne pepper, so I decided to make a test cookie. The cinnamon-chile powder sugar was spicy on its own (I tasted it), but it wasn’t nearly so hot once it was on a cookie. {Edit: Be sure to use the full 1/2 teaspoon of chile!} I baked the rest of the cookies on silpat-covered baking sheets at 400F for 10 minutes – any longer than that and they got a little too crisp.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

These were fantastic cookies. They turned out beautifully. I love cookie dough that you roll into balls before baking; the cookies spread out evenly as they bake and turn out perfectly round (and, they practically look store-bought). The few Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies I ate the night I made them were good, but they became uniformly soft and chewy, even out to the edges, after being in a sealed container overnight. The chocolate cookie was rich and chewy. Some of the cookies were hotter than the others, but that mostly just depended on how the cayenne pepper settled in the cinnamon sugar. A few cookies were a little spicy as you ate them; for most of the cookies, the cayenne left your mouth warm after you ate the cookie. I took some to work, and everyone there really liked them; we had friends over, and they all liked them too. I really enjoyed this recipe; it’s a keeper!

Mexican Chicken-Hominy Soup

I made Mexican Chicken-Hominy Soup for dinner last night. It was pretty easy to make. You can see the specific ingredients at the link above, but the recipe included chicken (which I’d cooked earlier in the week), broth, onion, jalapeno, garlic, and hominy. I garnished it with radishes and cilantro. I had about a third of the soup for dinner, and had the rest as leftovers.

Mexican Chicken-Hominy Soup

This posole-like soup was pretty tasty. I’ve made tortilla soups and the like before, but I think the hominy is what made this taste different and stand out. The thinly sliced radish garnish was lightly cooked by the broth, which reduced some of the bitterness. I’m not a fan of raw radishes, but I kind of wish I’d had more in my leftovers. This was also a very quick recipe to make if you’ve got pre-cooked chicken – it only took about 30 minutes from start to finish. It’s also a very inexpensive recipe to make. It is a light soup, which is good if you wanted to be able to snack later, like I did. I liked this, and I’ll probably make it again sometime.

250: Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs with 251: Quinoa Salad with Peaches

For dinner one night, I made Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs. This was a very simple and fast recipe to make. You make a spice mixture of garlic powder, chili powder, salt, cumin, paprika, and ground red pepper. Coat boneless chicken thighs with it, and broil them for 10 minutes, flipping them after 5 minutes. Mix together honey and a little cider vinegar; brush it on the chicken, broil for a minute, and then repeat on the other side.

Cooking Light magazine suggested that I make a Quinoa Salad with Peaches as a side. I don’t see the recipe on the website, so I’m listing it here.

Quinoa Salad with Peaches

Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil; add 3/4 cup quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Cool quinoa slightly. Stir in 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons honey, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 sliced ripe peach.

Spicy Honey Brushed Chicken with Quinoa Salad with Peaches

This was pretty tasty. Alex was disappointed that I saved any for a lunch the next day, because he would have liked to have eaten it right then. I really enjoyed this too. The chicken was both spicy and a little sweet, and the honey glaze gave it a nice flavor. I also think the chicken was a slight bit salty, perhaps to enhance its spiciness. The quinoa salad was pretty good. It was a little sweet from the honey and the peach. I want to say that the quinoa was nothing special (I actually overcooked it a little), but I think that’s just because I enjoyed the chicken so much more.

Definitely make this chicken. It was fast, easy, and delicious; you can short it on salt a tiny bit, though. The quinoa salad was tasty too, and I’ll probably make it again (in January when Alex demands I make this recipe again).

219: Calabacitas

I tried Calabacitas, another recipe I could make with my zucchini.

This was a very simple recipe. I used 4 cups of diced zucchini rather than half zucchini and half summer squash, and one diced poblano. This was very fast and easy to make.

We had this as a main dish on tostadas. I thought it was very spicy. I enjoyed them, and thought it was a nice change of pace. [Alex said that he enjoyed them fine, but would have liked it if they had had meat in them. Silly Alex.] Give this recipe a try, because it was simple and healthy. Just be sure you’ve got something to balance the heat from the pepper you use.

152: Spicy Orange Chicken

I was on an Chinese food kick, so I made Spicy Orange Chicken, even though I’d made Asian food earlier in the week.

This was easy to make. I made this a while ago, and I’m trying to remember if there was anything notable that happened while I was cooking it. I used 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes in this. I think the sauce thickened up very quickly. I decided not to serve it with spinach. Instead we had it over rice, with broccoli and mushrooms on the side. I believe we had 3 servings of this – one for each of us, and one as leftovers.

Spicy Orange Chicken

Alex and I both liked this. The ginger made this spicier than the Kung Pao Chicken, even though it had the same amount of red pepper flakes. The orange segments didn’t do much for me, though – I would have liked it just as much without them. I wish there had been more sauce, because it would have been good with the rice and vegetables; this was probably an adequate amount for the spinach that the recipe called for, though. I’d make this recipe again, but I would probably use regular orange juice and not bother with oranges at all.