Creamy Salsa Verde, but not really

Look, I will try to cook anything at least once.

I’ve never made a salsa verde or tomatillo sauce or green sauce or or or…

After a friend shared a food memory with me, I had to try it.

Hello, beautiful.

To make this gorgeous dish, you’ll do a few simple things with a few simple ingredients. 😉 One note before you start, I used my Vitamix blender and would recommend a heavy duty, large capacity blender for this recipe.

About 2 pounds tomatillos – I think I had a bit more than that
2 serrano peppers, remove seeds if you’d like it less spicy
4-6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
about 1 cup cilantro
1 – 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
about 1/2 – 1 cup crema*
1 pound spaghetti, cooked

Turn oven to broil – mine has a high and low setting, I used the high setting, and my oven rack is in the middle.

Remove outer layer of tomatillos and toss in a sink of water – they can be quite sticky, if you’ve never worked with them before — and wash them well. Cut the tomatillos in half, not top to bottom, though, but through the middle like you might cut open a biscuit. Place them on a baking sheet, flesh side down, drizzle with olive oil, and pop them in the oven for about 12-14 minutes. You want them to have a bit of char.

If you’re not quite as obnoxious as me, and you choose to make a smaller batch, you can use one baking sheet for all of it, but I’m extra.

While those are in the oven, cut the tops off the peppers and remove seeds, if you want. The more seeds you leave in, the spicier it’ll be – you do you. Rough chop the onion. Add the peppers, onion, and garlic to the other baking sheet.

Remove the tomatillos when they’re soft and have a decent char. Pop in the sheet with the peppers, for about 12 minutes, and remove when they are soft and have a nice char.

Wait about 10 minutes for the peppers to cool and rest a bit and then begin adding to the blender – tomatillos (and all their juices), peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, and cream cheese. Pulse until well blended. Remove from blender into a large saucepan or skillet. Add the crema beginning with about 1/2 cup. Season with a bit of kosher salt and warm through. If it’s still a bit too spicy, add more crema. The consistency should be a bit thinner than alfredo sauce and a little chunky. Taste and season as you see fit.

This sauce can be used over chicken enchiladas, as a dip for nachos or tortilla chips, on top of burritos or tacos, or like I did it here – over spaghetti.

If I’d had some monterey jack cheese, I would’ve added it on top, I didn’t, but you should. 😉

*crema is table cream and can be found in the refrigerated area of the grocery store near the Mexican cheeses. If you can’t find crema, you can use sour cream, but please look for the crema. It’s worth it.

Roasted Veggies and Gnocchi

You guys know I love me a good sheet pan dinner. I know it’s summertime and who really wants the oven on in the summer? Well, apparently, I do. And I assume some of you are okay with it, too. 😉

One of the things I like about this recipe is its versatility. Roasted gnocchi is probably one of the best things to eat! The veggie combos are endless.

So, first things first… this is shelf-stable, store-bought gnocchi. One day I will conquer it from scratch. Yesterday was not that day. Second, did you know you can cook gnocchi without boiling it? You can. I dare you to try it!

Here’s what I used and how I used it for this recipe.
Preheat oven to 450 (I know, I know, it’s hot) and cover a sheet pan in parchment paper.
While it’s heating to that hades level temperature, prep your veggies.
1/2 purple onion, rough dice (that means you don’t have to make it exceptionally small, pretty, or even uniform)
2 zucchinis, halved and sliced
A bunch of asparagus tips, snap at its natural snap point*
3 ears of corn, kernels removed*
Pint of sweet tomatoes
1 pound (or a little over) package gnocchi*
Olive Oil
Salt (the kosher variety, if you have it), fresh cracked pepper, and garlic salt
Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil

Place all the veggies and the gnocchi in a spot on the pan. Drizzle about 1/4 c (I didn’t measure) of olive oil over the whole pan. Add a touch of kosher salt and pepper. Mix each little section, trying to keep them separate but recognizing it will not ruin the dish if corn mixes with asparagus.

Place on the middle rack of the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn the pan halfway and roast for another 10 minutes.

In the end, the gnocchi should have a bit of color, and all the veggies should be nice and roasty.

Give it another drizzle of olive oil, add garlic salt, stir together and taste. Adjust seasonings to your preference. Top with fresh parmesan and fresh basil!

Okay. A couple *’s to address:
Asparagus will naturally snap at the point that the woody ends of it are no good. Just work your way up from the bottom, bending it lightly until it snaps.
To easily remove kernels, you can place the ear of corn on the middle of a bundt pan and let the pan collect the kernels. If you do it on a cutting board (this is what I do), please make sure it’s secure and won’t slip on you. Of course, frozen (and thawed) corn is an option, too. You’ll want about 1 1/2 cups of corn. Or however much you want. I’m not the boss of you or your kitchen.
If you use frozen gnocchi, be sure to thaw it for about 45 minutes before tossing it on the pan.

Spicy Garbanzos

Y’all… chickpeas are easily one of my favorite things to eat. They’re good so many different ways; roasted, pan cooked, fried, raw, on salads, in soups, in anything! I love them!

Because I love them so much, I’m always finding new ways to enjoy them. For these ones I’m sharing today, I ate some of them with my breakfast and the rest sat on my counter and I literally ate them all day and finished them off at dinnertime. I was hooked!

Olive Oil
1 can garbanzos, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds*
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Tahini sauce
Kalamata olives, to taste
2-4 T (yes, tablespoons) butter (I’ll let you be the judge of it!)
Sprig of rosemary
1 tsp, or so, fresh squeezed lemon (about 1/4 of the lemon)

Heat a good swirl of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garbanzo beans and cook for about 10 minutes, adjust heat if they’re cooking a bit too fast – but don’t turn it up if you think they’re cooking too slow… hear me here. 😉

Add the seasonings and stir to combine. I have a couple things to say here… if you’re using olives and salted butter, you might skip the salt and taste it when it’s nearly done to see if you need it. If you do, throw it in there, if not then just skip it. I wish I could tell you how much tahini to use – I dipped a butter knife into the jar and whatever was on it is what I swirled all over the beans; super scientific guess would be a teaspoon? Half? I dunno. At the same time, because the olives were next to the tahini in the fridge, I decided they should go in there, too, and so I lived boldly with my love for olives and tossed them in there.

By now, the beans should be fairly crisp and they’ve taken on all that good flavor from the spices – we add the butter, in pats all over the pan. I did 4 tablespoons, but I might’ve only done three had I gone a bit slower. Even then, some folks might find it too rich, but I love butter soooooo… I did not. And a sprig of rosemary if you have it – you won’t regret this decision. Continue to stir while the butter browns being careful not to burn it – about 2 minutes.

To serve, give it a squeeze of lemon juice fresh from a lemon. I didn’t have a lemon so I didn’t do it, but I wished I had a lemon because I would’ve done it. I put an egg on top of mine and enjoyed it that way and I also ate them plain. If you’re following a vegetarian or vegan diet (using a butter alternative), the fennel mixed with the meaty texture of the beans is almost like enjoying some breakfast sausage! Enjoy!

*get out that mortar and pestle to crush the fennel seeds! It releases all kinds of fresh oils and spicy notes from the seed. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can put them in a resealable bag and beat the tar of of them with a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin. Also, if you have a grinder (a spice one or any other kind – I’m not here to judge you!), that will work just fine, too! Only crush or grind what you need because it loses its flavor pretty quickly.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I will get better at food photos – one day. Until then, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup!

A few months ago, I needed to have a second surgery on one of my feet. So, my momma came to take care of me! Before she came, I prepped lots of food in the freezer and the fridge so she wouldn’t have to spend too much time shopping and prepping for meals. One of the meals I left for her to make was this beautiful soup. My apartment is an open concept, so while I laid on the sofa with my foot up – I gave her instructions for the soup.

A few days later, I remembered to write it down – and we think this is pretty close to how it was done. 😉

Large butternut squash
1-3 jalapeño peppers, diced (to your preference)
1 small onion, diced
4 c. Chicken broth (or veggie broth!)
1 can coconut milk (to preference)
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp sugar
couple pinches of thyme (dried, see note if using fresh)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil and butter

Preheat oven to 400. Peel squash, remove seeds, and dice into about 1 inch squares (it doesn’t have to be perfect). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, toss the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper until well coated. Place on baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for about 25 minutes, give it a stir, and roast for another 10-15 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, dice onion and *jalapeño peppers. Add about a knob of butter and a swirl of olive oil into a deep pot. Once those are melted together, add the onions and peppers and sauté until translucent and tender. Add ginger, salt, and pepper.

Once the squash is done, add it to pot with veggies and mix well. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add 1/2 can of coconut milk (note: add more depending on your preference to taste and consistency). Add dried thyme and sugar, mix well and heat through.

Use a immersion blender to purée the soup to your desired consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can blend it in small batches in a regular blender. Keep in mind to only fill your blender about halfway and cover with a towel. The soup is HOT! But really, immersion blenders are amazing to have around! Enjoy! 😉

Note: if you have fresh thyme, skip the dried thyme and garnish with the fresh thyme instead. You can also garnish with crema or nothing at all.

*for milder flavor, remove seeds and ribs from the peppers. It’s all about how much heat you want in the soup.

Sheet Pan Potatoes (and other stuff)

I spent about a year as a vegan when I was going through some eliminating diet things back in the day. It was fine… in the end, my body was okay with animal proteins, so I added them back. Every now and then, though, I still like to make meatless meals that are hearty and filling. This one had cheese, so it’s technically vegetarian, but you catch my drift.

For the record, this is the first recipe I’m sharing here, and I made it a couple weeks ago before I knew the food blog was gonna be a thing. My measurements while making this were non-existent. I’m going to do my best to approximate what they should be, but shoo… do yo’ thang and I’m sure it’ll be delicious.

A couple things to note: the amount of potatoes really depends on the size of the potatoes and how much you want of each kind. I think sweet potatoes add a lovely depth of flavor, but you’re welcome to skip them if you’d prefer to only use russets. Also, in the recipe, I note that You shouldn’t be shy with the salt, and I mean it. Undersalted food is a tragedy. For this dish, I used kosher salt – it has larger grains and adds good flavor.

2-3 large baking russet potatoes, ~ 1 inch chunks
2-3 large sweet potatoes, ~1 inch chunks
1 small sweet onion, large dice
cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large zucchini, quartered and chunked
15 oz can of black beans, rinsed
10 oz frozen corn, thawed
2 c. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
1/2 t. coriander
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1 T. garlic and herb seasoning (I get mine at Aldi!)
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 t. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400. Cover a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Toss the potatoes with a good round of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread in an even layer on the sheet pan. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes. While that’s cooking, chop the rest of your veggies.

After 25 minutes, remove the sheet pan, add the remaining veggies and the black beans. Give another drizzle of olive oil over the pan and mix. Add some more salt and pepper and the rest of the seasonings. This is where I’ll have to trust you to make the right choices since I didn’t measure! Don’t be shy with that salt, either. Mix well.

You’re doing great.

Place sheet pan back in the oven for about 20 minutes. Remove, stir, check for doneness with your potatoes. If they need a bit more time, put them back in for 4 minute intervals, until done. Roasting potatoes is very finicky and dependent on how your oven cooks or if you have other things in there with it. Once the potatoes are done (fork tender), cover with shredded cheese and add back into the oven until it’s melty. And beautiful. And lovely. Enjoy!