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.
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.
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.
Earlier this week I made one of my favorite recipes: fresh homemade salsa verde. I made it as a treat for my family to snack on with chips, but of course I had to make a double batch so we could enjoy one of our favorite weeknight dinners the next day: salsa verde chicken enchiladas.
Chicken enchiladas are a staple in our house. Red enchilada sauce is my personal favorite, but my husband absolutely loves salsa verde on anything, especially enchiladas. This is one of my favorite chicken enchilada recipes because it’s easy, quick, and filled with cheesy, saucy goodness. These enchiladas only have 5 main ingredients, and they’re things I almost always have on hand.
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.
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.
We celebrated Easter and a family birthday this past weekend, and it made my heart happy to reconnect with loved ones. I hope you had a wonderful holiday as well. I ate more than my fair share of candy and yummy baked goods, and now that the holiday is over, I really want to get back to a healthier eating pattern and invite more veggies into my life. Maybe that’s the reason I felt inspired to make this low-calorie balsamic glaze using only two simple ingredients. It adds a sweet-tart deliciousness to salads, grilled or roasted vegetables, grilled chicken or salmon.
It’s easy enough to pick up a bottle of balsamic glaze at the grocery store, next to the balsamic vinegar, but if you make your own, you’ll find it has a more intense flavor. It’s also free of corn syrup and starchy thickeners, ingredients you will find in ready-made balsamic glaze.
Meet my new obsession: Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Avocado-Lime Sauce. Born out of my favorite Best Ever Mexican Black Beans, this meal is easy, quick, and seriously delicious.
I love black beans in almost any form, but to me the real star of this recipe is the Avocado-Lime Sauce. Think of it as a cross between cilantro-lime dressing and guacamole. It’s absolutely perfect for dipping these tacos, or as a topping for burritos or salads.
I always seem to have the ingredients for this recipe in my kitchen, so this one is perfect for weeknights when I’m short on time. I love that the tacos are rich and crunchy, and the sauce is packed with fresh flavors.
If you want to try a sour cream-based sauce, or maybe serve two different sauces, these black bean tacos also taste great with Chipotle Lime Crema.
This recipe makes 12 tacos – enough for 6 servings, plus a little extra sauce. If 12 tacos is too many, this recipe is really easy to cut in half. But is there really such a thing as too many tacos?
Caramel – in many ways, there’s nothing simpler. Caramel is, in its most basic form, just melted sugar, which is made into caramel sauce by adding cream and simple flavorings. I’d heard that making caramel could be frustrating – that it was easy to burn, and that it crystalized for the most mysterious reasons, but I didn’t get it. I’d always had an easy time making caramel sauce from an “easy” caramel sauce recipe with sugar, water, corn syrup, vanilla, cream and salt. Caramel sauce was no biggie, I thought.
Then this past Christmas, I decided to give out jars of caramel sauce with Granny Smith apples as gifts for neighbors and relatives. I really wanted to make a sauce with butter, because as much as I liked my regular sauce, it didn’t have the rich flavor I was looking for.
That’s when the trouble started.
Batch after batch, all the caramel sauces I made with butter tasted terrific, but as they cooled, they became grainy and crystallized. I tried all the tricks I could find to prevent crystallization, including higher heat, lower heat, adding a little corn syrup, brushing the sides of the pan with water to wash away the sugar crystals, and covering the pan to allow condensation to prevent crystals from forming. Every batch crystallized, and I became obsessed. I wasn’t going to let this caramel sauce defeat me.
Finally, I tried making caramel using the “dry method,” melting the sugar without adding any water in the beginning, then adding the butter and cream once the sugar is fully caramelized. With the dry method, it’s a little easier to burn the sugar, but crystallization is less likely. This method resulted in velvety smooth, rich, buttery caramel sauce.
To begin making this old-fashioned caramel sauce, it’s important to have all your ingredients and utensils prepared ahead of time. Once the sugar starts cooking, you have to watch it constantly. You’ll need a heavy saucepan with at least two quarts capacity, a spatula and a wisk that will withstand high heat, and an oven mitt to use if your pan gets hot. Have a plate handy to set your utensils on, because melted sugar is no fun to clean off the countertop.
Put 2 cups of granulated sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Be patient – you don’t want some of it to burn before the rest of it has a chance to melt.
Stir as much as you need to prevent burned spots and break up lumps as the sugar melts.
Once the sugar is completely melted, stop stirring. Almost immediately, the caramel will be bubbling and dark amber in color. The temperature on a candy thermometer inserted at this point should be 350 degrees. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you don’t really need one. You can judge by the color when the caramel has reached the correct temperature.
Once the caramel reaches the dark amber stage at 350 degrees, remove it from the heat. Stir in the butter with a wisk. The caramel will bubble like lava when you do this. After you have added the butter, add the cream and wisk until smooth. The caramel will bubble up a second time. Add the vanilla and salt and wisk to combine.
Return the caramel sauce to medium heat and boil gently, wisking constantly for 4-5 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Allow the sauce to cool for about 15 minutes, then pour into a glass jar. The caramel sauce keeps in the refrigerator for about 3 months.
Obviously, this sauce does not fit anyone’s definition of healthy, but two tablespoons served with half a Granny Smith apple has about 250 calories, and that is the kind of dessert or indulgent snack I can get behind. You could get really fancy and sprinkle your caramel apple creation with a pinch of sea salt, a couple of teaspoons of chopped nuts or some mini chocolate chips.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) salted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (double or triple the salt for a salted caramel sauce)
- Have all the ingredients and utensils ready for this recipe ahead of time. Use a heavy saucepan or saute pan with at least 2 quarts capacity, because the sauce will bubble up when the butter and cream are added. Make sure the utensils you are using are heat resistant. Have a plate handy to set the utensils on.
- Put the sugar in the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring as needed with a wood or silicone spoon or spatula to prevent burned spots and break up lumps as the sugar melts. Keep cooking, stirring gently and breaking up lumps until the sugar has melted completely.
- Once all the sugar has melted, stop stirring. Cook until the sugar is bubbling, has turned dark amber in color and reaches 350 degrees on a candy thermometer.
- Remove the caramel from the heat and add the butter, blending with a wisk. The caramel will bubble up when the butter is added.
- Add the cream and wisk to blend. The sauce will bubble up a second time.
- Add the vanilla and salt.
- Return the sauce to medium heat and boil gently, stirring with a wisk for about five minutes until thickened.
- Remove from heat and let cool for about 15 minutes before pouring into glass jars.