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Archive for the category “cilantro”

Herby Dressing


I make a lot of salad dressing. My goal is typically to find vegetables that will bring the dressing to my mouth. I like vegetables, but it is hard to keep them interesting and add variety to ensure they make up a majority of my diet. I have been surrounded by herbs and summer lately, so decided to try and capture it all in a jar. I trundled through the jungle of herbs in my brother’s back yard and grabbed handfuls of garlic, cilantro and parsley. I rush back into the kitchen, to reduce my exposure to the triple digit temperatures. I filled the food processor with other basics of a dressing and come up with a bright, crisp, green concoction. We have used it so far to flavor salad, cauliflower fried ‘rice’, cottage cheese and dip. The word dressing may be deceiving, for it is not just for salad. It can brighten up all kinds of foods, so go for it!

Herby Dressing

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 ground black pepper
Place all ingredients except for olive oil into a food processor. Pulse the ingredients until herbs are of a uniform size. Continue processing steadily while incorporating oil with a continuous, steady stream into the processor. Store dressing in an airtight container, drizzling it with abandon on raw veggies or incorporating it into vegetable dishes.

Spicy Poblano Meatloaf

spicy poblano meatloaf

I know it is only August, but temperatures up here in Alaska continue to be cool during summer and my thoughts already turn to warm, fall dinners. Some of you are walking around in swimsuits trying to survive three digit temperatures and staying in the swimming pool as long as possible. We never put away our jackets and fleece, still needing them regularly, and daylight is down to a paltry 17 hours each day. We actually get to see sunset colors before bedtime! You are allowed to laugh, but regardless of the inspiration, I came up with this meatloaf. I remember when I was a kid I would make fun of the meatloaf my mom would make. Not because it did not taste good, it was awesome. It was just a thing. I was not alone in this form of entertainment – my dad and brother joined in too. They liked the loaf just like me and always had seconds. I am still not sure why we decided to make fun of it, but one day mom had a little too much of the kidding and declared she would not make meatloaf again. She was serious. I don’t remember ever having it again after that night.  Regardless of the edge over which we pushed mom, I still consider meatloaf a childhood comfort food. An important thing to not forget is the smushing of ingredients with hands. There is no way to properly combine ingredients without using hands. Don’t even consider excluding the step. I will probably make a summer salad tomorrow when the temperature gets up to a sweltering sunny 70 degrees, but today I cuddle under a warm blanket with my plate of loafy food watching the fog and rain.

Spicy Poblano Meatloaf

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 Tbsp avocado oil
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp chili powder (adjust amount to preferred spiciness)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 cups grated cheese (suggest cheddar or colby/monterrey jack mixture)
Sea salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add avocado oil to medium frying pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot add pepper, onion, celery, cumin seeds and garlic. Sprinkle generously with salt. Stir and cook until soft and browning begins. Add the chili powder, cumin, cilantro and parsley and stir. Continue cooking until liquid is reduced and some browning begins. Set aside mixture and let cool slightly. In large bowl add ground beef, eggs and cheese. With your hands mix together the three ingredients until well combined. Add cooked mixture and combine well. Load the meat into and press firmly in a 9 x 9 square baking dish. Place in oven and bake for one hour, until loaf separates from edges of pan and cheese bubbles up and begins to brown. Remove pan from oven and let cool for about ten minutes, letting the liquid settle. Serve with a vegetable side, like a creamy cabbage collard mix.

Herbilicious Chicken

herbilicious chicken

It is so herby and so delicious it must be herbilicious! And chicken to boot! We even made it twice in one week, which is very rare in our house – not only making the recipe, but making chicken. We are a protein kind of house, and most often rely on beef and pork to keep up our intake. Chicken is okay, but not our first choice. A dish has to be really good to get a double-make in a week. Our little balcony garden is growing like gangbusters and the nibbling birds cannot keep up, so we actually get to eat some of our harvest! Our oregano and sage look a little sad, but the cilantro, basil and parsley are very happy with the circumstances, and they do what they can to try and keep up with the towering collard greens. After not doing much gardening in recent years I am now reminded by our little plot just how much better food tastes when I grow it myself. It is amazing how much the sense of taste is influenced by the feeling of such an accomplishment. I can only imagine this dish would also be herbilicious with other herb combinations, so walk out in your garden and grab some handfuls. Let me know how it goes!

Herbilicious Chicken

6 – 8 chicken thighs, skin on
1/4 cup butter
3/4 – 1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup fresh parsley
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup fresh basil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. In large frying pan over medium high heat place all thighs in the dry plan, skin side down. Cook until skin begins to brown, about eight minutes. Turn thighs and cook for five more minutes. While chicken cooks roll the parsley, cilantro and basil together and slice them up, then finish with a rough chop. Add butter to pan and flip thighs so they are all coated with butter. Add herbs and garlic, again turning the thighs so they are coated. Cover pan and cook for ten more minutes, until juices from chicken run clear. Add cream and stir thighs until cream mixes with juices and herbs. Lower heat and let simmer until cream is heated and chicken is cooked completely, about five more minutes. Serve immediately.

Chorizo Burgers

chorizo burgers
We eat a lot of burgers. A lot. They are our go to meal when we can’t think of anything else, or are running late, or are bored, or end up at a quick serve restaurant. The quick serve restaurant is always  a challenge. You cannot imagine the number of blank looks I get when ordering and tell them I don’t want buns. “No, I do not want buns.” “No, no buns.” “You can use salad containers and just put the condiments, meat and cheese in it. It will work fine. I promise you.” “Do I need to go in the back and talk the food prep team on how to do it?” “No, I don’t want the combo/meal. Just the burgers. I know the meal is a better deal compared to buying separately the fries and burger and drink, but I don’t want the fries. And don’t forget, I don’t want the bun either.” What usually happens is Little B and Big D will go find the perfect table and I do the ordering. Not because Big D can’t order. He is extremely articulate. The advantage to to me ordering is my patience – I soooo beat him in that arena when it comes to dealing with ordering food and other people are involved. In contrast, he is most awesome in the patience arena when dealing with me. I tend to be passive aggressive and get stuff pent up until the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and not everyone can deal with it, but he is a magician with me. Okay, on with the dish. Since we avoid traditional buns, and I rarely make low carb buns, the variety in our burger-ness relies on combining meats and the toppings. I was longing for a Tex-Mex feast, but our current situation does not allow for expansive storing of leftovers, which rules out some more bulk preparations of the guacamole, salsa and chile con queso I usually prepare. I did mini versions of the sides, so we ate most of them and storage was not an issue (phew). Also, with my previous exploration into creative meats in burgers, I wanted to do something a little different. Here are my results, which gave me the Tex Mex element, while also giving variety to our burgers with a spicy flair. It may be hard to find good jalapenos in Alaska, but when I do, they are pretty potent. Between the pepper and the ancho chile the burgers definitely left a slow burn in my mouth, and on my lips, and under my fingernails felt the heat to. I was also reminded of those little webbed parts between my fingers that have dry skin but I don’t realize it until I chop up a jalapeno. Ouch but yum!

Chorizo Burgers

2 pounds ground beef
1 pound chorizo sausage
2 eggs
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp ancho chile powder
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cumin

1 batch chile con queso (melt processed cheese block with a can of tomatoes and chiles, add some chopped fresh tomatoes and jalapenos if you like)
1 batch salsa
1 batch guacamole

Prepare all condiments in advance. I did 1/3 batches and they were enough for these burgers, but do full batches if you have the fridge space – they are great the day after! For the burgers combine the eggs, cilantro, garlic, chile powder, salt and cumin. Whisk together until eggs are scrambled. In a large bowl smush together beef and sausage until there are no recognizable chunks of sausage. Add egg mixture and smush some more until eggs, herbs and spices are well combined. Form meat mixture into six or eight large patties. In a large frying pan over medium high heat sear one side of the burgers, about five minutes. Flip burgers and sear other side. Reduce heat by half, cover burgers and cook until done, about eight minutes. When done cooking immediately place a burger on a serving plate and top with queso and guacamole. Sprinkle with salsa and serve. If you have leftover burgers I recommend storing them separate from the condiments.

Cucumber Cilantro Cooler

cucumber cilantro cooler

Cilantro is best when fresh leaves and stems are used. As usual, I bough a bunch of it for a Tex-Mex feast we made the other night, kind of like this one, and some was left over. Also as usual I dropped the extra cilantro in a jar with water to keep it fresh as long as possible. It was still staring at me, and it was the cocktail hour, so I looked for some beverage ideas. I enjoyed my Whiskey Watermelon from a few days ago, so why not?! Here is what I came up with. It came out fresh, tangy and perfect for a hot, humid July evening. I got the idea from here and tweaked to my taste. I also made a version with tequila for Big D and he very much enjoyed it, so if you are not a vodka drinker try it with your liquor of choice.

Cucumber Cilantro Cooler

½ cup chopped cucumber, seeds removed
Small handful of fresh cilantro
2 ounces vodka (I use Tito’s, made in Texas)
1 lime (or 2 key limes), juiced
1 tsp granulated sucralose
¼ to ½ cup Seltzer water (optional)

Add chopped cucumber to a cocktail shaker along with a large handful of cilantro leaves. Muddle well, and then add vodka, lime juice, sucralose and ice almost to fill the shaker. Shake well for twenty seconds and then strain into a lowball glass filled with ice. If you want to make the cocktail a little less powerful, strain it into a taller glass and top with a splash of seltzer, then stir quickly. Garnish with a wheel of cucumber and a sprig of cilantro. Sip sip sip!


20130609-080341.jpgLook at me diving into summery goodness! I am not a real big fan of summer heat, which is only kind of funny, considering I grew up in Texas, where hot and humid are the name of the game for half the year. Maryland has its share of hot and humid, but for only a fraction of the Texas time, thank goodness. After a particularly rainy week we landed ourselves in the RV for a mostly warm, sunny weekend. Such a weather change inspired me to make a nice, cold soup to go with our fire seared meaty dinner. I stocked up on some fresh vegetables, threw them in a blender and waited, not turning on an oven or firing up a single burner on the stove. The meat got cooked over the fire pit as the sun set, making for a beautiful summer meal at twilight and grand evening of simple, refreshing food.


2 pounds ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup fresh cilantro, loosely packed
1/2 cup parsley, loosely packed
1/2 sweet Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 – 1/4 cup sherry

Combine all ingredients except sherry into a blender or food processor. Pulse until combined and all pieces uniform size. Add 1/8 cup sherry and pulse again to combine. If you like chunkier soup like me don’t pulse further. For smoother soup, continue pulsing to desired texture. Depending on the sweetness of the tomatoes and onion you may need more sherry and/or salt. If you are not sure, chill soup for about an hour and taste before deciding to add more. Chill at least two hours or overnight before serving. Garnish individual servings with any combination of tomato/cucumber/bell pepper/herbs you wish.

Cilantro Pesto

cilantro pesto with spoonWe had a bundle of cilantro sitting in a water jar on the counter. Since I kill it every time I try to grow/regenerate it, I tend to overstock on it when I find it fresh cut in the store. It was starting to look sad, even with its water, which meant it needed to be used pretty soon. The stuff goes from perky to slimy and brown pretty quickly when it starts to go, so I had to act fast. Big D was grilling steaks for dinner, so what could I do with cilantro. Hmmm….cilantro, steaks, cilantro, steaks….I know! I remembered a cilantro sauce from a restaurant I went to years ago in Denver, I think it. Maybe it was Boulder. Instead of basil they used cilantro for pesto. I decided to whip up some cilantro pesto to drizzle on top of the wonderfully seared rare steaks. It helped me use the cilantro instead of leaving it to go bad, and I could not imagine it being uncooperative with the grilled meat. I was right, I must say. The pesto worked great with the steaks, and the leftovers also worked great on pork loin. Another plus was the pesto kept much better in an airtight jar in the fridge compared to un-pesto cilantro would have done sitting on the counter. Double score!

Cilantro Pesto

1 bunch fresh cilantro, most thicker stems removed
1/4 – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 jalapeño, seeds removed
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp lime Juice

Add all ingredients except oil to blender or food processor. Purée until blended, then slowly drizzle oil into mixture. Scrape sides and blend more until everything is about the same size. Use immediately or chill until about an hour before serving. Room temperature is the best for serving.

Red Tomato Salsa

Salsa! It is low fat, low calorie, low sugar and can spice up pretty much anything. I don’t think it can be beat on top of eggs, inside tacos or all around a tortilla chip. I have made it cold, warm, roasted, raw, green, brown (it was actually good) and of course, red. The raw red version is the one that most reminds me of the tex-mex restaurants I like the most down in Texas where I grew up. Each batch is a little different, depending on the quality of the tomatoes and the bite of the jalapenos. This version of salsa comes straight out of the fridge. It is raw, red and tangy. I made the recipe mild, but it could of course be spiced up with more jalapenos.

Tomato Salsa

4 large rip tomatoes, quartered
½ small red onion, roughly chopped
1 large or 2 small jalapenos
1 lime, juiced with meat included
3 cloves garlic
1 small bunch cilantro
½ teaspoon ground sea salt

If you have a big food processor, combine one tomato with the remaining ingredients and pulse until finely pureed. Add remaining tomatoes and pulse until roughly chopped. Refrigerate overnight and serve cold.

If you are going to use a molcajete combine the onion, jalapeno, lime meat, garlic and cilantro in bowl. Grind until all the ingredients are combined. Add tomatoes and continue grinding until combined and the tomatoes are of preferred mushiness. Refrigerate overnight and serve cold.

If you have a small food processor add ½ a tomato and all the other non-tomato ingredients. Pulse until finely pureed. Empty puree into medium bowl. Add tomato to processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Empty into medium bowl. Add tomato to processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Empty into medium bowl. All the tomatoes done? Now stir everything up in the bowl and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold.


Tilapia Tacos

One of my favorite past times is kayaking. Big D and I have sit-on-top kayaks we use in warmer climates, while our sit-inside kayaks and spray skirts are reserved for colder places. Besides allowing us to paddle to shallow nooks and crannies boats often cannot go, the kayaks keep me on top of the water. I never really like that vulnerable feeling when I have my feet dangling down where they cannot touch the bottom, wondering if my wiggling toes are calling large sea mammals to come feast. It is irrational and I do not get to the point where I freeze with fear, but my imagination sure runs wild. Yes, I may be able to blame images from Jaws or Deep Blue Sea for giving me trepidations, and (mom, don’t read this) I have in fact landed in the ocean with feet dangling over the abyss, hanging on the edge of my kayak while waves roll me around. Good thing I can swim and can heave ho myself back into my kayak. I can stand here today and say with confidence that I have not yet been eaten by any sea creatures, though I am pretty sure a few have come close and considered a snack. All of this kayak talk is leading me to my solution for using up some beautifully ripe tomatoes and avocados.

I appreciate the taste of fresh fish on fresh corn tortillas, topped with things like the previously mentioned beautifully ripe tomatoes and avocados. Such concoctions are called fish tacos in my world. When I am done kayaking for the day, and famished, I am rarely interested in cooking. I want food. Immediately. Made by someone else. Since it is a must to be near water when kayaking, it is pretty much guaranteed there is someone cooking up seafood at nearby restaurants. I will trudge over to the nearest joint, regardless of my sandy and salty and bedraggled state, drink a ton of water and chow down. When I am not eating shrimp or oysters at said restaurants I like fish tacos – a mix of fresh vegetables and fresh fish all swaddled in corn tortillas. After watching fish swim by and under me all day I can’t help but think about eating them. I have discovered in my travels the preparation of fish tacos varies in the U.S. from coast to coast to coast (yes, there are at least three in the contiguous U.S.). Here is the way I like them.

Tilapia Tacos

2 tilapia fillets
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
1 lime, juiced with meat included
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp salt
¼ head green or red cabbage
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp sour cream
1 tsp Crystal® hot sauce
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1 avocado, diced
¼ cup cilantro leaves
6 corn tortillas

Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, lime juice, chili powder and salt in a bag that can be sealed. Add fillets and toss gently until the fish is covered by the marinade. Push air out of the bag and seal, marinating for at least an hour, flipping it over about half way through. For the coleslaw chop the cabbage thinly and then across, making short, bite-size pieces. Combine vinegar, sour cream, hot sauce, salt, pepper and cumin. Toss with cabbage. Refrigerate until tacos are served. Preheat oven to 300F. Brush the remaining olive oil on both sides of the corn tortillas, placing them on a large cookie sheet. While cooking the fish pop the tortillas in the oven. They should be ready about the same time as the fish – they just need to be heated up, not browned or crisped. Heat a pan on the stove top to medium high. Cut each fillet into three or four pieces, depending on the size of the fillets. Add the fish to the dry heated pan and cook about three minutes on each side, until cooked through. There should be enough oil on the fish to cook them without adding more oil, but if not, you may need to add a splash more while cooking. Remember: dry fish is gross fish! Before serving break up the fish into even smaller pieces, allowing them to better mix with the other ingredients when added to the tacos. Fill tortillas with fish, coleslaw, tomato, avocado and cilantro. Eat up! I tend to put the slaw on top so the dressing can drip down onto the rest of the taco contents. After a few bites sprinkle on some hot sauce if the tacos are not spicy enough.

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