Tag Archives: condiment

Horseradish Beer Cheese Dip.

Happy Halloween!!

Halloween is a favorite holiday in our house.  We usually throw a big party every year, decorating the house to its fullest and coming up with crazy costumes.  This year since we’re out of town, there is no big party, no decorations.  We didn’t even get to carve pumpkins.  It feels quite a bit off.

Even with that being said, we’ve already participated in some Halloween events here on the west coast.  The Fruitaholic has been wearing his costume for most of the week, and we’ve already collected a fair amount of candy.  We’ll be trick or treating at the local mall tonight which is quite different from what we’re used to but perfect for our current situation.  I keep joking with the Husby that I’ll be trick or treating at Williams Sonoma and the Apple Store in hopes of scoring a Le Creuset casserole dish and a new laptop.

Quite possibly the cutest Woody in the history of ever.

So on to what you’re really here for in the first place: the food!  I don’t have a Halloween themed treat to share but to stay in the spirit, I do have something orange.  I’ve made this dip twice now and it’s always been quickly devoured.  It couldn’t be simpler to make and served alongside some soft pretzels, it’s guaranteed to be a big hit at your next tailgate or for watching the big game.

Horseradish Beer Cheese Dip – slightly adapted from Peace, Love and French Fries

  • 8 oz (1 Block) Cream Cheese
  • 3/4 Cup Good Quality Beer (I used Fat Tire)
  • 2 Tbsp. Prepared Horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 2 Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

Place the cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds, until very soft.  Add the beer, horseradish and garlic powder and microwave again for another 30-45 seconds.  Add cheese and stir to combine, microwaving again in 30-45 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Summer Vegetable Pie and Sweet Mustard Vinaigrette.

I have a confession to make:  I am a CSA dropout.

For the past few weeks, I’d been placing orders with an organic produce delivery service.  I loved the idea of having local produce delivered straight to my doorstep without having to go to the store (because let’s face it, lack of motivation usually gets the best of me).  I was excited to discover new produce that I may not have been familiar with.  I was happy to be supporting local farms and farmers and reducing my carbon footprint.  What’s not to like, right?

As it turns out, at least half of the produce in my box was not local.  Some of it even came from as far as Mexico.  Some of the fruit we received began to turn within a couple of days.  A lot of the time, we couldn’t get through the vegetables before they started to go too.  And I really, truly missed packing the Fruitaholic into the stroller and spending the morning at one of our local farmer’s markets.  So when Lindsey of Our Share of the Harvest announced that this month’s What’s Baking theme would be “Bake Local,” I did just that.

We picked out fresh zucchini from a farm out of Indiana, carrots and spinach from Michigan, and tomatoes and sweet corn from downstate.  And the basil was just about as local as I could get: my very own backyard.  I took our bounty home in my reusable tote and created a dish that was just perfect for sitting outside on our deck and enjoying our summer evening.

Summer Vegetable Pie – adapted from Real Simple

  • 3 Zucchini, grated
  • 4 Carrots, grated
  • 1 Tbsp. Salt
  • 1 Ear of Corn, kernels removed
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I used Cabot Extra Sharp)
  • 6 Egg Whites
  • 1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan, grated
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tomato, sliced thin
  • Basil, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.

Grate the zucchini and carrots and sprinkle with the 1 Tbsp. salt in order to draw out the moisture.  There are a few methods that you can use.  You can line a plate with paper towels and squeeze out the moisture, press out the moisture through a fine mesh sieve/colander, or give it a few spins through a salad spinner.  I was able to draw out more than a cup of liquid.

Return the zucchini and carrots to a large bowl and combine with remaining ingredients except for the tomatoes.

Transfer the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate that has been coated with cooking spray.  Top with sliced tomatoes and additional parmesan, if desired.  Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and garnish with fresh basil.  Cool 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Sweet Mustard Vinaigrette – adapted from Reluctant Gourmet

  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Stone Ground Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. Agave Nectar
  • 5 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Dried Herbs of your choice – ~2 Tbsp. (I used Penzey’s Sandwich Sprinkle)

Combine garlic, vinegar, mustard and agave nectar in a small bowl.  Whisk in oil.  Add spices, to taste.  Keep refrigerated when not in use.

Place a bed of spinach on a plate and dress with the vinaigrette.  Top with a slice of Summer Vegetable Pie.

Fresh Basil Pesto.

One of the things I love most about summertime is being able to have fresh herbs at my disposal.  There’s something so satisfying about being able to step out my back door and pick exactly what I need.

I was sitting outside watching the Fruitaholic play and found myself staring at my basil plant.  It was growing like crazy, and if I didn’t pick some soon, it would start to flower.  I grabbed a large handful and did what anyone with an abundance of basil would do: I made pesto.

I’ve never made fresh pesto before.  I’m a victim of buying the prepackaged kind from the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  But I’ll never be doing that again, because making fresh pesto is SO EASY and tastes so much better.

For this occasion, I kept it simple and just dressed some pasta, but stay tuned throughout the summer for some great ways to use pesto, and maybe even some different pesto variations!

Fresh Basil Pesto – adapted from Spark Recipes

  • 1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 4 Cups Fresh Basil, loosely packed
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil

Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown and become fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly.

Add pine nuts and garlic to the food processor and pulse until minced.  Add the basil, lemon juice and parmesan cheese and process until finely minced.  With the processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil and process until well blended.

**Pesto freezes really well.  Try freezing it in an ice cube tray to get individual portions!**

Jalapeño Bacon Jam.

I love bacon.  And really, who doesn’t?  A friend and I even have a longstanding joke where we exchange bacon related gifts with each other on birthdays and holidays.

Bacon Jam first crossed my radar when Kevin made a dish with it on season 6 of Top Chef.    It just sounded too damn good.  I had found a recipe a while ago and aquired all of the ingredients, but it required 6-8 hours of occasionally stirring on the stove.  And honestly?  I don’t have that kind of time so it kept getting pushed to the back burner.

Flash forward to the extreme look of joy on my face when I opened the December 2010 issue of Everyday Food.  My bacon jam dream was finally going to come true.

I served the bacon jam with some brie and mini toasts for a New Year’s Day Brunch, but it is equally as good slathered on a piece of toast and topped with a fried egg.  I’m excited to try it as a topping on a burger and to stir it into some pasta.  The bacon possibilities are endless.

Jalapeño Bacon Jam – slightly adapted from the December 2010 issue of Everyday Food Magazine

– 1 1/2 Lbs. Bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

– 2 Medium Onions, diced

– 2 jalapeños, seeded and deveined

– 3 Garlic Cloves, smashed and peeled

– 1/2 Cup Cider Vinegar

– 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed

– 3/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup

– 3/4 Cup Brewed Coffee

Cook bacon over medium high, stirring occasionally until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned, about 30 minutes.  Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.  Reserve 1 Tbsp. fat in skillet and add onions, jalapeños and garlic.  Cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 6 minutes.

Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup and coffee.  Bring to a boil while stirring with a wooden spoon, careful to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.  Add bacon and stir to combine.

Transfer mixture to a slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered, about 4 hours until syrupy.

Using a food processor (I used a Magic Bullet), pulse until coarsely chopped.  Let cool.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.


Make sure the fat is completely rendered before removing bacon from the pan.  I didn’t let it render enough, and it added 2 hours to my cooking time.

I found it strange to keep something uncovered in a slowcooker, but it helps to release the moisture in the food, turning the bacon mixture into a syrupy consistency.

The jalapeños were not very hot, but they added a great smokiness to the jam.  If you prefer your jam with more heat, leave some seeds in.