Rosemary Spiced Mixed Nuts 2014

Let’s remix this business.

Rosemary Spiced Mixed Nuts I first featured Rosemary Spiced Mixed Nuts back in 2010.  2010??  Sometimes it still shocks me that I’ve been blogging for over 4 years!  Anyway, despite the fact that I made these nuts a long time ago, they’re still a staple at my house.  I serve Rosemary Spiced Mixed Nuts each year at my Thanksgiving extravaganza, and I also like to prepare them occasionally as a travel snack.  The 2010 nuts are tasty, easy to prepare and completely addicting.  So, why would I update the recipe?

To be honest, I’m just switching things up a bit.  I love the flavor profile of the original recipe, so I’ve kept most of the flavors in this recipe similar.  Brown sugar, rosemary, cayenne pepper and sea salt work harmoniously together with notes of caramel, grassy wood and a faint heat that provides just enough intrigue.  I’ve also added some maple syrup for good measure.  The notable difference in my 2014 recipe is in the process.  Here, I toss a mix of cashews, almonds and walnuts with butter, maple syrup and flavorings, then bake until the nuts become golden, fragrant and slightly sticky.  I then sprinkle over additional sea salt and chopped rosemary once the nuts come out of the oven.  This process helps to really infuse the nut mix with all those tasty flavors.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Avocado Toast 5 Ways

If you enjoy avocado as much as I do, then you’re going to love today’s article.  I’ve got 5 fresh avocado recipes for you below!

Avocado Toast 5 Ways In particular, Avocado Toast.  The concept is fairly simple.  Mash up half an avocado with salt, pepper and some sort of acid (lemon or lime juice) to taste.  The flavors should be bright without covering up the cool grassiness of the avocado.  Spread this mash over a lightly toasted piece of bread, and you have Avocado Toast.  It’s that easy!  I like to use whole wheat bread here, but sourdough or country bread would also work well.

Avocado Toast can be enjoyed for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.  Avocado is packed with healthy fat and nutrients, so I find that just 1 slice can keep me full and satisfied until my mid-morning meal.  I’ve also served these luscious green beauties as an appetizer (on thin slices of seedy baguette).

To take things up a notch, here are 4 variations on the basic Avocado Toast:

  • Egg + Bacon + Chive.  A dressed up version perfect for Saturday breakfast.
  • Frisée + Bacon + Lemon.   Similar to one of my favorite sandwiches (minus the tomato).
  • Tomato + Basil + Balsamic.  Italian flavors that pair well with avocado.  Serve as an afternoon snack or a simple appetizer before dinner.
  • Corn + Chile + Lime.  My Mexican spin on Avocado Toast.  Big, bold flavors.

The recipes below are more like loose guidelines.  I barely included exact measurements, because most of the toppings are to taste.  Don’t like red onion?  Leave it out.  Love bacon (like me), add more.  A scatter of this.  A sprinkle of that.  Just know that the flavors in each recipe work well together.  Quantities of toppings are up to you.  Also, each recipe uses just 1/2 an avocado.  If you don’t plan on using the other half immediately, sprinkle the cut side with acid (lemon or lime juice), press plastic wrap directly against the flesh of the avocado, and store in the refrigerator.  Continue reading for the recipes.

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Charred Onion and Bacon Dip [Giveaway]

Remember when I told you how much I enjoy Game Day grub?  Well here’s another recipe I love to eat while pretending to watch the game: Charred Onion and Bacon Dip.  Also, I’m giving away a $100 gift card!

Bacon Onion Dip Thick slices of sweet red onion are cooked in bacon fat AND butter until melting and blackened around the edges.  Honey, garlic and white wine are added to boost sweet and savory flavors.  After a quick chop, this charred onion flavor bomb is mixed into a rich blend of cream cheese and sour cream.  The dip is finished with chopped bacon, chives, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and lemon juice.  Pair this big, bold dip with some all-star accompaniments: crisp potato chips, sweet carrot sticks and fresh sliced celery.  I’ve served my Charred Onion and Bacon Dip at a number of parties, and it’s always a friend favorite!

This onion dip is another recipe I put together in partnership with Jimbo’s… Naturally! at Westfield Horton Plaza.  Almost all ingredients used in this recipe were organic, and I’ll have to tell you, I’m really learning to love organic products.  I can truly taste a difference between organic and regular.  Especially with produce!  Check out some of my other Jimbo’s… Naturally! recipes:

In addition to this tasty onion dip recipe, you’ll also find information below on a $100 Jimbo’s… Naturally! Gift Card giveaway!!  You’ll definitely want to continue reading…

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Green Goddess Guacmole

You guys, this guac is so darn tasty.

Green Goddess Guacamole A mashup of green goddess dressing and guacamole, this rich, herb-flecked dip is completely and utterly addicting.  Rumor has it that green goddess salad dressing originated in the 1920’s in San Francisco.  The dressing is typically made with mayo, sour cream, anchovy, lemon and a flurry of finely chopped fresh herbs.  Here, I’ve taken some of these flavors, and applied them to one of my favorite Mexican dips, guacamole.  This recipe starts with cool jade cubes of ripe avocado.  Finely chopped shallot, garlic, parsley, cilantro, chive and tarragon are then added with sour cream and anchovy paste.  Lime juice and kosher salt bring everything to life.  The entire mixture is mashed with a fork to keep the texture somewhat chunky.  Each bite of this adventurous guacamole is packed with incredible herbaceous flavor.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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The Summer 2014 Backyard BBQ Guide

Summer officially starts this Saturday (June 21), and that means it’s time to host a backyard BBQ.

Jorge's Bacon Cheeseburger Hosting an outdoor event for friends and family may seem like a daunting task, but I assure you that there’s no need to worry.  I’ve got you covered.  This Summer 2014 Backyard BBQ Guide will provide you with all the recipes and techniques needed to throw a fabulous al fresco fête, including drinks, appetizers, sides, mains and desserts.  Without further hesitation, let’s get this party started.

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Tomato and Horseradish Cocktail Sauce

We’re in the middle of a heatwave here in San Diego, and all I want to do right now is sit by a pool (or at the beach or in a backyard) with an ice cold michelada, and a plate of shrimp cocktail within arm’s reach.

Cocktail Sauce With Shrimp
Preferably this plate of shrimp cocktail, featuring my Tomato and Horseradish Cocktail Sauce.  Made with charred tomatoes, freshly grated horseradish root, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, hot sauce and honey, this homemade condiment is fresh, bright, and has an incredibly light mouthfeel.  The flavors are similar to a classic cocktail sauce, but with the volume turned way up.  What I love the most about this sauce is that it allows the flavor of the shrimp to come through, giving the crustaceans a chance to be more than just a sauce delivery system.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Deviled Eggs Three Ways

It’s the post you’ve all been waiting for…

Deviled Eggs 3 Ways Not one.  Not two.  But three deviled egg recipes.  With Easter just around the corner, I’ve come up with a game plan in advance to use up all of those leftover hard-boiled, dyed eggs.  Step 1:  Make deviled eggs.  Step 2:  Throw a Deviled Egg Party.

Let’s dive right into Step 1.  Below, I’ve provided recipes for a variety of deviled eggs: Chile Garlic, Avocado Bacon and Pickled Beet.  My Chile Garlic Deviled Eggs are made with fiery Sambal Oelek, chopped cilantro, and plenty of fresh lime juice.  These flavors are big and bold.  Next, my Bacon Avocado Deviled Eggs are prepared with crispy bacon bits, rich avocado, chopped green onion, hot sauce and lime juice.  Guacamole in deviled egg form, this variation is highly addictive.  Finally, Pickled Beet Deviled Eggs are made by pickling whole hard-boiled eggs with sliced red beet in a liquid flavored with red wine vinegar, black pepper and bay leaf.  The egg whites soak up both the flavor and the color of the pickling liquid.  The yolks are then mashed with mayo, chopped pickled beet, pickling liquid, prepared horseradish, and chopped fresh chive.  All three eggs are so. yum.

Use these three recipes as a guide to make your own variations.  You’ll need three tablespoons of mayo for every six eggs.  Then, add spicy (kimchi, pickled jalapeños, Sriracha) and fresh (cilantro, parsley, chive, mint) elements to cut through the richness of the yolk and mayo.  Salt is a must.  If you find that the yolk mixture needs a little lift, add acid (lemon, lime, vinegar).  Continue reading for Step 2, plus my three recipes for deviled eggs.

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Pickled Quince

Pickled Quince Last year, I had mentioned that quince was one of my new seasonal favorites, and this year, I’ve been even more enamored with it. During my 2-Year Anniversary celebration, I served champagne poached quince with Greek yogurt and honey for dessert. And for Thanksgiving, I served Pickled Quince at the appetizer table beside a wedge of creamy brie and an assortment of salty crackers. Quince is so versatile, easy to prepare, and completely unexpected. If you’ve never given it a try, you simply must.

Similar in appearance to a pear or apple, the quince is a pome fruit that is fairly inedible in it’s raw form. Quince must be cooked to reach their full flavor potential. The fruit is hard when it is ripe and unripe, so you must use your nose to gauge ripeness. Bring the tail end (not the stem end) of the quince to your nose. If it smells fresh and floral, it is ripe.

In this recipe for Pickled Quince, slices of peeled quince are simmered in a bath of apple cider vinegar, cane sugar, juniper, black peppercorn and fresh bay leaf. The resulting pickle is incredibly tart and fragrant with a hint of sweet and spice. Pickle Quince would be perfectly at home on any cheese and salumi board, or pair well with any rich, fatty meat (especially pork). Continue reading for the recipe.

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Roasted Fennel and Apple Guacamole

Roasted Fennel and Apple Guacamole Jorge and I hosted game night recently, and one of the many tasty dishes served that evening was this Roasted Fennel and Apple Guacamole.  But first let me tell you a little about the game we played: Cards Against Humanity.  This game is awesome.  Basically one person reads a question or a fill in the blank statement (the black card), then everyone else tries to answer that question or complete the statement using the cards they have in their hand (the white cards).  The person holding the black card then decides which pairing is the funniest.  What makes this game awesome, is that the white cards can be pretty darn outrageous.  I mean, we played for almost 4 hours, and I couldn’t stop laughing for most of the evening.  My face hurt afterwards.

I think Cards Against Humanity has been out for a little bit, and I’m probably late to the party here.  But if you’ve never played, and you don’t mind a little over-the-top humor, you need to give this game a try.  So much fun.

And if you want to host a game night of your own, I’d definitely recommend making this guacamole.  Rick Bayless released this recipe last year, and I’ve had it bookmarked ever since.  Sweet, herbaceous fennel is roasted until tender and fragrant, then added to cubes of rich avocado along with crisp, tart apple, lime juice, jalapeno, and cilantro.  This seasonal variation of a Mexican classic is sharp, creamy and wonderfully complex.  The licoricey fennel compliments the avocado while tiny pops of green apple offer contrast in flavor and texture.  The fennel isn’t really overpowering here.  With each bite, you’ll notice just a hint of fennel at the end.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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Bacon Tostilocos

Bacon Tostilocos

Oh man do I have a fun recipe for you today!  Tostilocos, a Mexican street food specialty, are typically made by cutting open a bag of flavored corn chips and piling on toppings such as pickled pig skin, tamarind candies, Japanese peanuts, jicama, cucumber, lime juice, chamoy and hot sauce.  I first had Tostilocos last year at our San Diego LGBT Pride festival.  Jorge and I had been walking around all day, and I was getting huuuungry.  We stopped to sit for a moment in the shade, when Jorge hopped up and said, “I’ll be right back.”  Several minutes later, he returned with a bag of Tostilocos.  After just one bite my taste buds were all like, “Whaaaaaaat???”  Such a crazy combination of flavors that just completely work well together.  Sweet.  Salt.  Sour.  Crunch.  I’ll have to say the one element I’m still not completely sold on is the pickled pig skin.  It’s like savory gummy worms.  But wet and slippery.  Not my fav.  So when I was coming up with a homemade version of Tostilocos, I decided to substituted thin strips of smoky bacon for the pickled pig skin.  I also included some quick pickled cucumber and red onion to add another note of sweet, sour and salt.  You can easily make these pickles at home in just one hour (mainly inactive wait time).  Jorge and I will still get Tostilocos each year at the festival, but now I can easily satisfy cravings in between with my bacon version!

If you don’t live in San Diego (or any other City bordering Mexico), some of these ingredients may look very foreign to you.  Try to find a Mexican market in town.  They should have everything you need.  Or you can easily purchase these items online.  I purchased everything at Pancho Villa’s Farmer’s Market here in SD.  Continue reading for the recipe.

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