Homemade Roasted Chili Oil

Sichuan-style toasted chili oil brings a toasty heat to all your favorite foods.

Lately I’m in love with Sichuan-style roasted chili oil – a little obsessed, in fact. Roasted chili oil (or toasted chili oil) has a complex, toasted chili flavor that’s mellow and not acidic. Sometimes I buy roasted chili oil from my local gourmet supermarket, but it’s expensive and hard to find. I decided to try making my own, so I would never run out. I eat it with scrambled eggs, roasted vegetables and potatoes. It’s also fantastic with our 10-Minute Wonton Soup, Crock-Pot Honey Balsamic Chicken, Korean Beef and Noodle Stir-Fry and Easy Homemade Kung Pao Chicken.

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Sun Dried Tomato Walnut Pesto

Yum! This sun dried tomato pesto is packed with Italian flavors!

Italian, Sauces, Snacks | September 21, 2016 | By

Anyone who knows me knows I love Italy and Italian food. My husband’s family is Italian on his mother’s side. Recently his Italian immigrant great grandparents were honored with a historic plaque at the site of their former farm, now a city park. It was a great time for the family to get together, celebrate Italian heritage, and eat Italian food. Everyone brought snacks and appetizers, and I decided to make this sun dried tomato walnut pesto. This pesto is irresistible! The bold, bright flavors of sun dried tomatoes and fresh herbs perfectly complement the rich, mellow flavors of walnuts and olive oil.

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Baked Buffalo Wings with Easy Blue Cheese Dip

Baked Buffalo Wings are easy and addictive with no deep frying required!

Is there a more classic game day dish than Buffalo wings? Maybe football season should be called wing season. I love Buffalo sauce so much, I think I could eat it on just about anything. Every football season, I make Buffalo wings for at least one or two watch parties, and they tend to disappear fast off a buffet table. Most restaurants fry their wings to get them crispy, but if you know a few secrets, baked Buffalo wings can be even better than fried.

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Baked Honey Barbecue Wings with Easy Ranch Dip

All through the summer, our family counts down the days until football season starts again for our favorite college team. September is finally here, and the wait is over! Our team is 2-0 so far. If we don’t have tickets to the game, we usually have a watch party with our favorite game day foods, like these baked honey barbecue wings with easy ranch dip. My family loves these wings so much, I make them even when it’s not football season.

One thing that ruins wings is soggy skin. The wings need to be cooked long enough that most of the fat gets rendered out of the skin, but not so long that they dry out. Most restaurants fry their wings, but you can get perfectly crispy, restaurant-style wings from the oven if you know a few secrets.

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Homemade Sweet Chili Sauce

Homemade sweet chili sauce is sweet, spicy, and simple - perfect on chicken, shrimp, rice, or egg rolls.

Homemade sweet chili sauce: it’s sweet, spicy, simple, and delicious on pretty much anything. I’ve been buying sweet chili sauce for years, and I always wondered if I could make it better myself. I tried a few different methods, some more successful than others, and finally landed on this one as my favorite. I like this method because the consistency is great; not too syrupy or too watery. 

Sweet, spicy, and simple - this sauce is perfect on chicken, shrimp, rice, or egg rolls.

If you’ve never tried sweet chili sauce before, you are really missing out. My favorite way to eat it as a dipping sauce for veggie spring rolls. But it’s great on chicken, shrimp, salmon, rice, or almost anything. Today I was so excited to eat it that I mixed it in with some quinoa and ate it as a snack.

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Chipotle Lime Honey Vinaigrette

Chipotle Lime and Honey Vinaigrette tastes great with salads, grilled chicken, shrimp or fish.

During the past week we’ve celebrated a high school graduation, bought season passes to the water park, and fired up the grill at least three times. I guess you could say summer is underway! I love the tastes of summer, especially tangy citrus flavors like lime and lemon. I developed this recipe for Chipotle Lime Honey Vinaigrette to go with my Chipotle Lime Chicken Kabobs, but it goes great with any kind of salad, grilled fish or shrimp.

There are so many flavor directions you can go with a basic vinaigrette, but this combination of chipotle, lime and honey is one of my favorites. This dressing is tart, sweet and spicy without being overpowering. It’s fresher and less expensive than bottled dressing.

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Chipotle Lime Crema

Chipotle Lime Crema adds creamy, spicy, citrusy goodness to tacos, burritos, enchiladas, grilled meats and more.

I love sour cream on all types of Mexican food – its creamy coolness tames the heat from chiles and adds richness and tang to tacos, burritos, nachos, tamales, and lots of other dishes. Sour cream also makes an excellent base for a flavorful sauce, like this Chipotle Lime Crema.

I developed this recipe as a dipping sauce for my Chipotle Lime Chicken Kabobs, but it also tastes great with Allie’s Black Bean Tacos, Cilantro Lime Shredded Chicken or just about any of our Mexican or Southwest recipes. It’s actually a faux crema – true Mexican crema is made with heavy cream and buttermilk, not sour cream. This sauce only takes about five minutes to make, and you can serve it with fish, shrimp, chicken, pork, beef, beans or vegetables.

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Very Veggie Marinara Sauce

Very Veggie Marinara Sauce is easy, economical and full of fresh vegetables.

There’s something so satisfying about a plate of pasta with a hearty, flavorful marinara sauce. It’s a meal that can be put together in a hurry, when you’re low on groceries or have no idea what to make, and it’s inexpensive but still delicious. 

When my husband and I were dating, he pretty much lived on pasta. At the time, we were both waiting tables at the Old Spaghetti Factory, and they gave us a free plate of pasta every shift. I’m pretty sure he would have eaten spaghetti and pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. His Italian mama made him spaghetti at home, too, always with her homemade sauce.

Over the years, I’ve developed my own marinara sauce recipe, and I usually make it using the pressure cooker or Crock-Pot. My recipe uses carrots and celery in addition to tomatoes, onions and garlic, with a touch of extra virgin of olive oil. I love having this sauce on hand, to top pasta, grilled chicken or zucchini noodles, or to use as a dip for breadsticks. You can also use it for baked pasta dishes like Allie’s Baked Caprese Tortellini.

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Better-Than-Olive-Garden Copycat Italian Dressing

Better-Than-Olive-Garden Copycat Dressing is easy to make and tastes even better than the real thing.

Ranch is the most popular salad dressing in the United States, but at our house Italian salad dressing is a lot more popular. It’s probably because my husband’s family is half Italian (on his mother’s side), and they love to celebrate their Italian roots. Early in my marriage, I learned that the secret to my mother-in-law’s wonderful “homemade” salad dressing was Good Seasons Italian salad dressing mix, and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s pretty good made according to the package directions, but I think it can be improved on just a little bit. It’s the basis for this Better-Than-Olive-Garden Copycat Italian Dressing recipe.

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Easy Homemade Salsa Verde

This salsa verde is so easy, and way better than store-bought salsa. You're only a few ingredients and about 15 minutes away from your most delicious salsa verde ever!

I love salsa: salsa roja, corn salsa, pico de gallo, mango salsa, I’d be happy to eat salsa every single day. But I think salsa verde might just be my favorite. I bought salsa verde for years without thinking about making it myself, for some reason I always thought it was going to be difficult or require complicated ingredients. Last year my family planted a large garden for the first time and we made salsa verde from our own homegrown tomatillos.  It was hands down the best salsa verde I’ve ever had, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was. After that summer I’ve never gone back to store-bought salsa verde.

This salsa verde is so easy, and way better than store-bought salsa. You're only a few ingredients and about 15 minutes away from your most delicious salsa verde ever!

While traditional red salsa is tomato based, salsa verde is tomatillo based. If you’ve never cooked with or purchased tomatillos, they’re those small green tomatoes with husks on them. They’re not actually tomatoes, just a member of the tomato family and they have a bright, fruity flavor that I think comes out especially well when they’re roasted. 

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