Brussels Roasting On An Open Fire

For most of us in the Pacific Northwest we are dealing with very hot temperatures right now. In fact, most of us are dealing with blistering heat around the country. That means one thing, time to cook outside on the grill! If you know me, I don’t need an excuse to grill, but the heat is certainly gives me more reason to grill. I don’t know about you, but we have a hard enough time keeping cold air in, so not adding more hot air is paramount. I try to do as much as I can on the grill and use the stove/oven as little as possible. Again, I love to grill so it works out.

I was making dinner the other night and I started thinking about how to do one of my favorite sides, brussel sprouts, on the the grill. I knew it could be done, but like so many things, there are a billion ways to prep these little gems. Luckily it is super simple to make these into a perfect side dish.

First, turn your grill to medium heat and let the grill come up to temperature. Meanwhile, trim and prep the brussel sprouts. Can’t remember how to handle them? No problem! Just click here for a quick refresher course on how to get these ready to cook. Just look for the section featuring our little friends and you will be set to go. Next, place the brussels in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, a few pinches of salt, fresh ground pepper to taste, and any other seasonings that you like. I like to use a little garlic salt or a spicy pepper blend to give these a little bit of a pop. Try adding a teaspoon at a time and taste as you go to make sure you are happy with the flavor. Once  you have combined everything together, throw them onto some foil, thusly.

After that, place this on the grill and cook for about 10-12 minutes. The cooking time will depend on how big the brussel sprouts are and if you are getting consistent heat. Make sure to keep on eye on these and stir every few minutes to keep them from burning. You want to get color on them, but you shouldn’t be getting little nuggets of coal. It isn’t Christmas quite yet, but hopefully you have all been nice and not naughty boys and girls.

Once you are done applying the heat, you should have something that looks like this.

It is that simple! They are really good! They are soft, a little crispy, with some nice char from the grill, and they get a little sweet as they cook through. Just keep in mind that brussel sprouts tend to absorb the oil and seasonings like little sponges, so you might have to season a little more heavily than you normally would. Or, if you prefer, you can adjust the seasoning after they are done cooking. That is totally up to you. I season heavily before I start and then I adjust as needed. You will love these, I have no doubt! This is a cooking method that I will come back to time and time again!
Try to stay cool and hydrated out there!
Table Fare Team

We’ve been talking mostly about food, but I thought I would switch gears and introduce you to some of the team that keeps the blog running behind the scenes. I can’t think of anyone one better to start off my TFT (Table Fare Team) team biographies than this first member.

What I love best about this guy is that he is always around to help keep me grounded and stay in the moment. When I find that I’m getting stuck, he always something to say to help keep me moving forward. Team morale is his primary focus because of the importance it plays in allowing me to find my voice. He always is encouraging me no matter how I feel. I mean, could you ask for a better staff member than that? Make no mistake, while team morale is his thing, he isn’t going to let you off the hook and just skate on by. Oh no. Not him. He demands and expects the best and makes sure you know it too.

When I brought him on board, this staff member was excited, but timid. He wanted to help, but wasn’t sure his skill set would match my dynamic vision for the blog. Although we struggled at times, we never gave up on each other. Even in the heat of the moment, we would find a way to come together and reach for more. He has turned out to be super hard worker and often stays late. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that level of dedication. In addition, he loves to learn and is always curious about what I am up to. Also, he is always near by so when I need help I have him to lean on. This is especially important when it comes to recipe testing. However, his excitement can sometimes be problematic as he loses his focus easily. He knows this is one of his issues and tries to work on it as much as he can.

What else can I say about him? Well, he is charmer. Women love him! Ladies, he is single too! He can be the life of the party and is always ready to have a good time. He loves the outdoors and moon-lit walks on the beach. He is kind, compassionate, and caring. He is very funny and loves some adventure. Truly a good guy all the way around.

So, who is this amazing partner in crime??


That’s right! Say hello to Blitz! This is the man! He is a Japanese Chin, which is part of the Spaniel family, and weighs about 14 pounds. He is the nicest guy, but he is aptly named. He loves to play, seek attention, and has tons of energy!  He often curls up next to me while I’m writing. When I don’t have the laptop and I’m reclined, he will climb up and lay on my chest and just relax. That is quality time if I do say so! How can you not love that face?

Stay tuned as I will have more team updates to come. Also, there is a lot of new content I’m working on to add to the blog as well. So, keep checking back for that!

Rollin’ Your Way to Pasta Town

Although I have covered some of this, I just love fresh pasta so much that I had to share it again! I will admit, making fresh pasta is a blast! It is a great skill, but it takes a little patience. So, we talked about making the pasta dough in “Perfectly Practical Pasta Fundamentals” or click on the link to review.

Okay, ready to go? Let’s make some pasta!

For me there are 3 styles of pasta that can be used universally. Those are fettuccine, spaghetti, and ravioli.

The great news is that if you are rolling these by hand, the dough will be same thickness for all three applications. I will say that without a pasta attachment for a stand mixer or purchasing a hand crank pasta maker, no matter how much you work the dough with a rolling pin you will only get to about an 1/8 of inch thick.

From my own experience and after numerous tests, I was only able to get the dough to about that thickness. Seemed like when I did manage to roll the dough thinner, the dough would ultimately retain it’s shape. It felt like it was something out of horror film or a science project, which this sort of is, but we want that that bounce in the pasta because that means it will have that springy texture when you bite into the noodles. The good news is the even when rolled by hand, the dough is thin enough for us to make homemade pasta! Now, if you invest in the hand-crank roller or mixer attachment it will make rolling the pasta a breeze. Just follow the instructions of your roller to get to the correct thickness for your pasta of your choice.

I have been making a ton of pasta dough ever since learning how to do so in a local culinary workshop, and I have been using it in practically any form I can come up with. The truth is that once you have the basic dough down, you can do anything you want — once your dough is as thin as you want it (or you can get it), then it is up to you to do what you want with it. As I have said, the cooking times will be impacted by the thickness of your pasta dough.

Spaghetti and Fettuccine:

So how do you cut the pasta to get the shapes you want for spaghetti and fettuccine? Fold your sheets of pasta until they form this general ribbon shape.

After that, it is just a matter of cutting the pasta. If you want spaghetti, cut thin ribbons with a knife. Sadly I don’t have any photos of this. I know, shocking right? Just use your best judgment and go with any width you like. Honestly, you can use some dried pasta as a cutting guide if you really want to get serious about it. I just eyeballed mine and it worked out just fine.

If you want fettuccine, cut the pasta into slightly thicker ribbons until you have something that looks like this.

Make sure to dust and roll the pasta in a little flour to keep the strands from sticking together and they will be easier to handle that way.


For ravioli, keep your pasta sheets whole and try to make them as even as possible. If they aren’t perfect, don’t worry. You will be able to trim the sheets once the raviolis are formed and ready for their salt water soak.

Next, use a small spoon or a measuring spoon and scoop out a couple of teaspoons of filling for your ravioli, dropping the filling onto a pasta sheet. Leave a few inches in between each lump of filling in order to make sure you have enough dough to seal the raviolis properly. Here are a few photos to help you get an idea of what to do during this process.


Finally, use a little water and brush the edges of the sheet of dough and in between each bit of filling. Then, fold the top half of the sheet over the bottom and press with your fingers around each area that you dabbed with water — this will seal the ravioli. You could also use another sheet of pasta and cover it like you would with a pie for example. Trim your ravioli accordingly, and if you want, you can crimp the edges with a fork to make sure they are sealed properly.

The only thing left to do is test your ravioli to see how long they will need to cook. I would recommend testing a couple of ravioli in a pot of boiling salt water. After that, apply sauce and enjoy thusly. If you need some sauce suggestions, may I recommend some lemon cream sauce or some turkey bolognese sauce. I believe you find these very suitable for your intents and purposes.

Congratulations! Throw some flour in the air! You have graduated from Homemade Pasta 101!! Yahoo!!!

Okay…..maybe don’t throw flour in the air as the cleanup could take the joy and fun out of pasta making. Besides, there is nothing more perplexing than finding bits of flour all over as you prepare to run errands or attend meetings. Yeah, not the best look, I can tell you that…

I hope this inspires you to make homemade pasta! Leave me feedback or questions if you want to try to tackle something else pasta related.

Oh, for all my friends that have gluten sensitivities, I haven’t forgotten about you either. I am currently testing a gluten-free pasta recipe that I hope to share in the near future.

Stay Tuned!

When Cooking Goes Wrong Part Deux

While making breakfast this morning, I was confronted with another culinary caper and had to share the story. I started my morning with the plans to make a beautifully poached egg resting on top of some arugula and spinach drizzled with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Don’t worry, I plan on covering poached eggs in an upcoming post.

In order to expedite my cooking time, I decided to poach the egg in a smaller pot than what I normally use. I think I actually impeded the cooking of the egg. Perhaps I hadn’t enough coffee before I started cooking. Where’s the coffee gone?

But I digress, so I slid the egg into the water to begin to cook. I give it a stir to let the egg white form around the yolk so it gets that glossy white that surrounds the yolk. Here is what a poached should look like.

However, that wasn’t what happened for me. I pulled off the lid with excitement only to discover that I could see the yolk plain as day. I didn’t have a perfect poached egg, I had half of a perfectly poached egg. I reached into the pot with a slotted spoon to see what I could salvage and the remainder of whites separated like the space shuttle shedding used booster rockets. Man, this wasn’t what I wanted to have happen to my perfect breakfast idea. Now what I wondered to myself. Again, I heard in my head, well you have half of a perfectly poached egg. Then it hit me!

 I did my best to carefully remove as much of the lingering egg white as I could without breaking the yolk. I ever so gently maneuvered  my egg yolk into position on top of the waiting greens……..

Yes! Poached egg achievement unlocked!!! Honestly I couldn’t believe how good it looked. There was only one more thing to do.

Figure it out?

I love waterfalls, but there is nothing that rivals this……

That’s right. The magical flow of a perfectly cooked, runny egg yolk. It is hard to beat! Yep, I went there!

How do you eat this masterpiece? Personally, I mixed it around like it was salad dressing and ate it just like that. Simply sublime. You could also load a fork full on to some good  bread and enjoy thusly.

So what is the moral of this post? Remember, most kitchen conundrums can be overcome with a little bit of patience and trust. In fact, I was talking with another blogger about this same idea of you have to keep going and never give up. You might like your mistake more than if you had completed the dish successfully. Plus, I love the way this looks on a plate! It just looks so cool! 

I could only think of one way to end this post. It is the same way that I ended When Cooking Goes Wrong. Once again, with the immortal words of Julia Child, “Never apologize.”


When Cooking Goes Wrong-How To Rescue Your Dinner

Let’s face it, in the words of celebrity chef Alton Brown, “All cooks have bad days.” Doesn’t matter if you are a professional or a home cook, it does happen.We aren’t The Food Network and don’t have the magic of television and editing when it comes to cooking at home. It is frustrating, annoying, and well, can be down right disappointing. Tonight was one of those nights for me. I had a good plan for what I wanted, but it didn’t come together as I anticipated.

Before I get into what went wrong, I want to say that it all turned out well. I am a firm believer that some basic techniques and understanding of the ingredients allowed me to recover from what seemed like a series of unfortunate events.

It all began as I was testing a gluten free pasta recipe. I found a recipe that seemed doable and I had to test it out to see if I could make the pasta work. It turned out that my very first batch was a success. I managed to get a small portion of gluten free fettuccine out of what I made and it was really good! By the way, this wasn’t like weird tasting cardboard like, gritty pasta. It was everything you would expect out of fresh pasta. I was so excited the pasta worked that I decided to work it into dinner. So, I planned to make grilled chicken thighs, sauteed baby carrots, and gluten free fettuccine with my lemon cream sauce.

I started with the chicken thighs, seasoned them up, and got them on the grill. While I was working on some other ingredients for my lemon cream sauce, I saw my barbecue was looking more like I had a bonfire going instead of cooking chicken. Channeling my inner Superman, I raced to check the chicken and it was totally okay. Let’s just say I made numerous trips to the barbecue with the same urgency hoping I wouldn’t end up with charcoal chicken. It seemed no matter how carefully I attended the grill, I couldn’t get the chicken skin crispy and it just seemed underwhelming.

After I had the chicken bonfire under control, it was time to tackle the pasta. However, it seemed at every turn disaster was not far away. Turns out that I should have rolled and cut the pasta first before I worked on anything else. I was so pumped up with the success of my first batch that I rushed and didn’t take my time to make sure the recipe was right. Keep in mind, I had made one, small single portion of the pasta less an hour before. I had some of the dough left from the first batch and was certain I could just whip the pasta out and would be on to my next venture. It wasn’t going to happen, not this time. I had the dough and I was ready to put it the through the rollers on my pasta maker. The pasta cracked, split, and separated as I ran the dough through the roller. This is typically a sign of the dough being wet and it needing more flour, so I added more flour. This went on for a while when I realized that the dough was falling apart from now being too dry. Luckily I had only used about half of the dough at this point. It was clear that maybe it was a bad idea for me to take this pasta on after all. Honestly, I was getting frustrated. I was perplexed but not willing to give up on the pasta. So, I grabbed another chunk of dough and tried to roll it again. Long story short, the rest of the dough suffered the same fate and I wasn’t able to save any of it. Rest in peace, pasta dough. You will be missed. I knew I needed to go back to the drawing board and figure out what I did to make the dough work the first time. So, I opted to use some of my dried fresh pasta that was hanging around the house. The pasta crisis was averted even though I was bummed and super frustrated it wouldn’t be fresh pasta.

I turned my attention to the one thing that I couldn’t mess up, the pasta sauce. I sauteed the mushrooms, added the roasted garlic, lemon zest, and gave it a stir. Finally, I thought. I am back in control of this dinner and everything is back on track. So, with that I added the wine and began to let it reduce. After a few minutes the pasta was ready, the chicken was rested, carrots were done, and I just had to finish the sauce. With a swift motion, I deployed the half and half into the pan, stirred the sauce a few times, and suddenly my beautiful sauce started to look like something out of a horror film. I had separated the sauce! Ugh! I stirred intently hoping that the sauce would come back together, but to no avail. Instead I was left with a gloppy, unappealing pasta sauce.

My mind raced with what to do and I was about to scrap the sauce altogether when I realized I could salvage the sauce. I added the mushrooms to a fresh pan, a little olive oil, some freshly grated parmesan cheese, and some of the pasta water that my pasta had been cooking in. Why did I use the pasta water? Well, it has two very useful properties that can be a lifesaver when it comes to pasta sauce.

First, the pasta water should be seasoned with salt, so it will provide another level of flavor and seasoning. I always add three very healthy pinches of salt to my pasta water. Some chefs say your pasta water should taste like the ocean. I don’t think you need that much salt, but you should be able to taste the salt clearly in your pasta water before you cook any pasta. Yes, I taste my pasta water for seasoning. Remember to season everything!

Second, while the pasta cooks, starch is released into the water and this can be very advantageous. You can use this starchy water to help thin a sauce if gets too thick before you serve it or you can use it to thicken a sauce. For example, as the water evaporates from the starch, the starch tightens and thickens whatever liquid the starch is suspended in. You may have seen a recipe where flour or corn starch is incorporated into water and it is used as a thickening agent. Typically you see this in gravies, sauces, or Asian noodle dishes or recipes.  As an added bonus, the starch provides that creamy, rich sensation on your palate. After applying these two little two little tricks and some sanity, I had saved the sauce.

Although the carrots were the least troublesome of the bunch, I was constantly turning the heat up and down to keep them from overcooking. Luckily I managed to get it done. However, I certainly could have done without the carrots trying to be unruly.

Here is how the final plate came together.

Not too bad, right? See, it turned out well and was very good!

What’s the final takeaway? You can fix most cooking mistakes with some basic knowledge. If nothing else, I hope that you are able to take something away from this blog even if it isn’t from this post. If you are able to use something you have learned from this blog to improve or grow your own skills, then mission accomplished.

When I  was thinking about how to end this post, I was flooded with quotes from the immortal Julia Child that sum up this post theme. “No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” “One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.”

As it turns out, I am very guilty of feeling bad when I don’t cook something properly or I get derailed from my dinner plan, such as the pasta. As much as I don’t like to admit this, I hold onto that frustrated feeling even after the meal has long since ended. For me, this is one place where I always look to improve my own time in the kitchen. This last quote resonates with me at a very personal level. Again, from the great Julia Child about being in the kitchen, “Never apologize.”

So remember, “Never Apologize.”

Bon Appetit!

Lemon Cream Sauce-The Sauce To Save Us All

Okay, time for a confession. I have been making a lot of pasta, and I mean a lot of pasta! See?!

Okay, just so you know I have basil and regular angel hair pasta, basil flecked fettuccine, basil pureed fettuccine, and standard fettuccine in the pasta basket. Not to mention all the dried pasta in my cupboard that stands ready to join the culinary battle at a moments notice.

Making all of this pasta has been so much fun and I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Besides, you can never have too much pasta in the house in my opinion. Best part is that you can decorate your kitchen if you put the pasta in some tall glass storage containers and place them strategically throughout your kitchen. It is a great way to appear as though you have been slaving away in the kitchen for hours when you can get the same accolades for only 30 minutes of work. Who doesn’t love that idea, right? Anyway, I digress, so back to my confession. I have so much in my head that I want to say about pasta and pasta making, but figuring out how to write about all of it has been tough. It has slowed my pasta progress down a bit. But, I charge on to keep the blog rockin’. So, at this point we have covered most things about basic homemade pasta, but we are missing one big element.

Sauce. That’s right, pasta sauce.

Sauce really makes the pasta special and it can really make or break the dish.  Granted, I could eat pasta with butter, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and freshly grated parmesan all day long. Or, you can always break out my bolognese recipe by clicking here. However, I love that making pasta sauce is only limited by your imagination. Let’s face it, sometimes our imaginations aren’t enough and we need help.

So, for some additional inspiration I began to scour the internet looking for a fun option for a sauce. Honestly, I wasn’t even inspired by what the internet had to offer. For some reason it seemed like all the sauce options were the same.  I knew that I wanted a sauce that had a cream component, but I didn’t want standard Alfredo sauce. Also, I had some mushrooms  that I wanted to incorporate as well. The only other thing I wanted was to have some acidity in the dish by adding lemon or lime in some way. So, I settled on a sauce that was a combination of Marsala sauce and Piccata sauce. Marsala typically includes onions, garlic, herbs, mushrooms, heavy cream, oil or butter, and Marsala wine. Piccata, which refers to a cooking method more than a sauce itself, but generally is associated with lemon juice, white wine, garlic, and finished with a little butter. However, I don’t generally have Marsala around and I want to use what ingredients I have around the house. You will notice I just combined the elements of both sauces that I wanted and made it my own.

So, I decided to saute some mushrooms, add a little roasted garlic, and some lemon zest. Then, I hit that with a little white wine until the alcohol cooked off, seasoned it with some salt and pepper, and at the last second tossed in a splash of half and half to reduce for a minute or two. I had no idea what the sauce would be like since I was making it up on the fly, but it was absolutely perfect for the pasta! The sauce was rich from the half and half, a little tangy with the lemon zest and wine, there was a touch of sweetness from the roasted garlic, and some earthiness from the mushrooms that provided a little texture.

Lemon Cream Sauce:

1 c button mushrooms
2 tsp roasted garlic
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 c white wine
3 tablespoons half & half or heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Saute button mushrooms at medium high heat in a tablespoon of olive oil until mushrooms begin to brown. Saute the mushrooms in small batches and don’t over crowd the pan, otherwise you won’t get any color on the mushrooms. After a couple of minutes turn heat down to medium and add in two teaspoons roasted garlic. Stir the garlic around and let that cook for a minute or two. Toss in two teaspoons fresh grated lemon zest, salt and pepper, add about 1/2 cup of white wine, and reduce until wine is mostly cooked off and gone in the pan. Make sure to cook with wine you would drink because you will be concentrating those flavors. Finally, add 3 tablespoons of half and half or heavy cream, stir, and cook another minute. Serve with your favorite pasta and garnish with fresh grated parmesan cheese. I actually tossed the noodles directly into the pan with the sauce so the noodles can absorb all those flavors and every bit of sauce.

Note: If the mushrooms absorb all the olive oil in the pan, don’t worry, you can just add a little more. Or if you really want to get your mushrooms brown, just leave the oil out, and turn down the temperature on the stove, and stir frequently to keep the mushrooms from burning. 

Seriously, this is one of the best sauces I have made! I could eat it with anything! Well, maybe not breakfast, but I could make a case for any other meal of the day. You find yourself wanting to come back again and again for more. I can’t imagine what else you could want out of a sauce. I know you will feel the same too!

By the way, you could just spoon this over some grilled chicken, pork or fish. Just in case you wanted to think outside the box. You can’t go wrong. I promise!


Grilled Pineapple, Charred Onion and Jalapeno Salsa

I love a good classic salsa, but nothing beats a little variety in your salsa arsenal. I actually like a salsa that is fruit based to provide a different flavor profile. But, why go to the store when you can make it at home? As with everything it is all about the proper balance. I love pineapple, so it is no surprise that this is my choice for my fruit component. Pineapple turns out to be a perfect choice when you want a little complexity. Pineapple is naturally sweet but can have some acidity so it is already balanced. Once you put it on the grill the pineapple gets some char and some subtle and useful bitter notes. Therefore, it is an excellent choice for a fruit based salsa. There are other fruits that will offer a similar profile and if you prefer those, then use them. I think pineapple fits the bill the best in this application. Besides our three main ingredients you are only in additional need of a pinch of salt, pepper, and maybe a splash of olive oil to round the salsa out. Oh, did I mention that this is about the easiest recipe you will find? When I originally debuted this salsa I had l had lumped it together with my regular salsa. That was great, but I realized that this salsa needed to be its own headliner. So, without further adieu, here you go!


Grilled Pineapple Salsa:

1 medium ripe pineapple, peeled and sliced into rounds or log shape pieces
2 quarters of a red onion
1 whole medium sized jalapeno

Slice pineapple into rounds, quarter a red onion, and throw a whole jalapeno on the grill until they become caramelized, charred and have softened up a little bit. I would say this will take about 15 minutes total. Keep an eye on the pineapple so it doesn’t get burnt and bitter.

After you have achieved charry goodness, chop the pineapple and red onion up to your desired size, and toss into a bowl. Treat the jalapeno like we do roasted red peppers. Throw it in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and steam until you can peel the skin off the pepper. If you don’t mind the heat, leave the seeds and ribs, cut the pepper into a small dice, and mix with the pineapple and onions. Otherwise, you can scoop out the seeds and ribs to remove any lingering heat that may be left in the pepper. Season with salt and pepper, add a few teaspoons of olive oil, stir, and you are done! Serve with chips, fish or as a salad or burger topper. Again, you could use it for so much more! The pineapple is sweet, a little charred, but pairs perfect with the red onion that still has a little bite, and the jalapeno provides a very subtle, gentle heat.

Here is the finished product!! Give this a try! You won’t be disappointed!


Homemade Salsa

We can all agree that one of the quintessential things to have during the summer is salsa, right? Granted, there are a million variations of salsa that you can make and create really easily. Some of the classics are mango, pineapple, peach, green chili, and that just scratches the surface. Salsa is so easy that you can have homemade salsa in about 5 minutes! Not only that, but chances are you have everything you need to make the salsa at home already. That means you don’t even have to leave the house and drive from store to store to find the ingredients you need. I am all about simplicity and making sure the ingredients you use can be found anywhere.

So, the only question is how much time do you want to spend making your salsa? You can either dice and chop the salsa by hand and that only adds about 5 more minutes–still quicker than going to your local Speed-O-Mart. Or, you can throw it all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. It is really that simple. They are both perfect choices, but some people like their salsa a little more chunky, so maybe making the salsa by hand is a better way to go. Maybe you have some guests who like their salsa a bit more broken down, then blender salsa might be your answer. If you have someone who doesn’t care, well, do whatever gives you more time to enjoy the best part, eating. Honestly, some days I like to make it by hand because it keeps some of my knife skills, well, sharp. But, if you are trying to minimize adding that “special human touch” to your salsa, then blender or food processor salsa should be your final answer.

Ready to go? Let’s do this!

Basic Salsa

 NOTE: Once you have handled the jalapeno or any spicy pepper, wash your hands right away!! However, more importantly, do NOT touch your eyes, nose, mouth or any other sensitive skin as the oil from the jalapeno stays on your skin even after you have used soap!! The oils will cause burning and it is very unpleasant!! Sorry for the bold, underlining, italics, and caps, but I can’t stress this point enough about the jalapeno. I have done it and take my advice, it is very unpleasant. If you want to totally reduce the risk of the getting the oils on your hands, then grab a pair of latex gloves, clean dish scrubbing gloves or anything else that provides a barrier between the pepper’s oil and your skin. Make sure you discard the gloves right away and wash your hands still in case you get any on your skin while you are taking the gloves off.

This recipe is the same for both being done by hand and thrown in the blender. I will include instructions for both.

4 ripe vine tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoons red onion

1/2 of a jalapeno

2 tablespoons cilantro

4 teaspoons lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Hand cut salsa:

Dice first five ingredients, throw into bowl, add remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper, stir, and adjust accordingly.

Blender or Food Processor Salsa:

Okay, cut the onion and jalapeno into pieces about the size of postage stamps or a little smaller. The real heat from the jalapeno is in the seeds and the white ribbing, so scrape that out with a spoon to tame the spice from the jalapeno. Again, be mindful of oils from the jalapeno as it can linger on your skin longer than you think.

Peel the garlic cloves, and cut them in half.

Throw the garlic, onion, and jalapeno into your blender/processor with the olive oil to allow the ingredients to move around the blade. Pulse or chop on low speed until have those ingredients are chopped finely. You can scrape down the bowl if ingredients are getting stuck on the side of the container or add a little lime juice to help as well.

Cut tops off tomatoes and cut them into quarters, add a few quarters at a time until they are broken down. Don’t worry if they are super chunky now, you just want to be able to add the remaining tomatoes. Continue until all tomatoes are broken down, but pretty chunky.

Add cilantro and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse or process till you have reached your desired consistency.

Season with salt, pepper, or a little lime juice as needed.

If you are just using this for chips, you can add a little less salt since most chips have a good bit of salt on them. But, if you feel like the salsa needs more, then go ahead and add it.


That is it! You are done!

 I promise even with all these little steps the salsa comes together very quickly. If you want to add more spice or anything else, go for it! As I’ve said, this a stock salsa, that you can customize any way you want.

If you are looking for something to go with this to wet your whistle, may I suggest a cold beer, a nice margarita, or for a responsible Friday night, some good quality tequila would be just fine. Make sure you have a driver, a friend, have turned in your keys or you have a place to stay for the night so you can really enjoy the evening the right way.


Breaking Ground with Coffee

Your alarm goes off and it is time to start your day. Many of us start the day thinking about what to wear, why did we get out of bed, all the errands we have to run, and hoping to have enough time to enjoy a shower. However, I would be willing to bet for the majority of humanity, we start with the morning with a hot cup of coffee. It is the the fuel that feeds our busy lives from morning until night.You want to know what I think about when I think about coffee? I think about dinner. That’s right, dinner. It is no secret that coffee can be used in a number of ways when it comes to all things edible. Coffee can be used for every square of your day in all kinds of ways.

My favorite way to use coffee, besides drinking it, is to add another level of earthy richness to a dry rub for fish, pork, chicken, steak, and vegetables. Yes, it will work on any of those things and provide wonderful body to any dish you are making. We have talked about dry rubs before on this blog, but I just wanted to give you a fresh take on what you could do if you were feeling inspired. Besides, inspiration is often the best time to be in the kitchen. So, always take those opportunities if you have them.

So, what could you put in your multipurpose coffee rub? Well, perhaps this will give you a few ideas.

Salt, fresh ground pepper, dried thyme, paprika, coffee grounds, onion powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, chili powder.

That is it! Mix it up and you are done!

In this photo notice that I haven’t gotten all the coffee incorporated, otherwise it would look like this.

That is all that it takes. I do have a few little lumps from the brown sugar, but don’t worry because that will break up by the time you have finished the dish.

Here is an example of how you could use it on some tri-tip that I barbecued the other night.

Yes, it gives that beautiful dark color and a very unique flavor. Just be careful because this combo with the coffee, brown sugar, and paprika can turn dark very quick.  Just make sure you are keeping an eye on it!

Coffee Rub:
 Note: Make sure to taste and adjust as needed often. You may find you want more garlic, less spice or want to make some other adjustments. This is just a base recipe for what I like to use in my coffee rub. If you are unsure about the amounts, try cutting the recipe in half or omitting what you don’t want until you are sure about what flavors work for you.

1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon coffee grounds (I’m using Seattle’s Best Medium Blend #3, but use what you like.)
1-2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
4 teaspoons of brown sugar

 Mix all ingredients until combined. Transfer to container of your choice and use as desired.

Still want to do more? Don’t let me stop you, just add a pinch to your chili or your favorite ice cream.

 Just do it!

Go! Enjoy!