Onion Dip BLT

What’s your ideal BLT? The non negotiable that makes it your favorite BLT?

For me: it’s onion dip. Nothing laborious or homemade, just the Lipton packet with the sour cream, no hacks, nothing extra added. I have no recipe for this post honestly, just a rundown of what makes my favorite BLT.

THE B: I love a good quality thick cut bacon, preferably pepper bacon, I usually grab mine from the meat counter at the grocery store. The thin cut bacon is always too crispy where the thick cut gives the crisp but also a little chew. I love the added texture in a sandwich.

THE L: I know it’s a little controversial maybe but I love iceberg on a BLT. I think there’s a nostalgia to it but it also has a superior crunch in the world of lettuce. And contrary to popular belief iceberg does have a distinct flavor that just screams pair me with a summer tomato.

THE T: I think BLTs should maybe only be eaten in the summer, to the point that you’re sick of them but the end so you don’t want another until the following summer. It’s when tomatoes are at their peak which means all the flavor you need from them is actually available. I love a good heirloom, but a casual beefsteak works well too. When in doubt, ask the farmer at the farmers market what they’d suggest. Slice them THICC and salt at least one side before placing on the sandwich.

FOR THE EVERYTHING ELSE: I love a good country white bread, the artisan brand at the grocery store works great, it’s what I used for the sandwich above. I think a light toast makes the sandwich not fall apart and adds the nice bit of flavor but if you’re going the sourdough route (I’ll never turn down a nice fresh sourdough) you could probably skip the toasting all together on a stronger bread, the last thing you want in a BLT is an upper mouth grating when you go to eat. Obviously as discussed above I love an onion dip but the classic mayo works just as well. YOU DO YOU, BABY.

Blueberry Lime Muffin Cake

Do you know the muffin cake?

A lofty, larger, cooler cousin of the classic single serve muffin. Muffins get a lot of flack for either a) being to dry or b) pretending to be healthy when in fact they are just a cupcake with the glasses/moustache disguise.

Here we’re leaning into the idea of it being a dessert but also staying true to what I think makes a perfect muffin, and that is the difference in the crumb of the baked good. A good muffin will have either a boatload of yogurt or sour cream or buttermilk to offset too much sweetness and give a slight tang but also lend to somewhat of a squidgy crumb. That’s what we’re doing here. A whole cup of yogurt helps give tenderness but also a slight tang and a crumb that is moist without being wet or feeling too decadent. It’s a great alternative for your next breakfast or brunch and completely customizable, and just to send the message to everyone at the table, there’s streusel: the livelihood of a good muffin.

The combo of this is blueberry and lime ( I think a worthy/better opponent of the classic lemon pairing) but you could really switch out the berries for anything else fruit wise and swap the zest and juice of the lime with whatever other citrus pairs best with the fruit, think orange and raspberries, grapefruit and peaches, the possibilities are really endless. I’ve already got a mulled cider sort of vibe with spices and apples and orange floating around in my head.

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Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Salad, the main companion to yesterday’s pesto recipe, the bread to the butter. The tangy and rich pesto mingles with sharp and buttery castelvetrano olives, creamy quest fresco, and toasty chopped almonds to make a perfect polyamorous relationship of flavors in one dish. Move over Sister Wives.

I mention the pasta salad in the pesto post but it started from a very simple build of pasta and pesto and turned into this masterpiece. I firmly believe that a more complex sauce like pesto doesn’t need 10-15 added mix-ins that you’d normally see in a classic macaroni salad. I opted for 3 to play with and highlight the flavors in the pesto:

Castelvetrano olives – honestly one of the greatest olives out there that’s readily available, crisp but buttery with a briny note that can only come from a good olive. I buy mine from two places for cost reasons: costco if you can find the massive jar that’s like $8 or $10 that will make probably 6 batches of this salad or whole foods olive bar, fill the 8oz container with the pitted option, draining the brine as you scoop them up so you don’t pay for the weight of the brine, and that should be enough for this recipe plus maybe a couple more to snack on.

Queso Fresco – look for this with the mexican cheeses, sometimes it’s in the same section as regular cheddar etc but if it’s not there check over by where they carry chorizo. It comes in a 10 oz wheel, you’ll use all 10 oz for this recipe. It doesn’t have a strong flavor, but it’s subtle and the squeaky texture makes it the perfect addition to a pasta salad, R.I.P. baby mozz.

Almonds – Now, I know what you’re thinking, is this post sponsored by almonds, there’s 1 1/2 cups all together with the pesto and mix-ins. The answer is no but it could be, CA almonds please call me. The toasted almond flavor with the tangy pesto and buttery cheese and olives? heaven. Try it, trust me, love u.

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Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, the distant cousin to the Romesco, for the end of your summer needs.

Truth be told, I have a strong dislike for the 90s staple. In part because they’re casually thrown into things with no pairing, wild abandon, into the abyss of a pasta dish with too much cream, and in another part because unless you’re buying the premium thing they tend to taste like a piece of leather soaked in Italian dressing.

This whole recipe happened because a local restaurant has a sun dried tomato pesto pasta salad that’s a plain girl with zero regards for having enough salt. NEVER salted. I ordered it probably 8 times before I was finally like, I can do this myself.

The salad is coming in another post so the pesto can shine here on it’s own because it’s truly so so good. And the perfect way to use up the jar of sin dried tomatoes you might have floating around in the back of a cabinet. It’s only a handful of ingredients and the full batch makes enough for the pasta salad plus a couple sandwiches, but this would go well on top of salmon or grilled chicken orrrr whatever your favorite basil pesto application is.

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Chili Oil, Tomato, & Snap Pea Salad

Several weeks ago I went to go and make a smashed cucumber salad from my friend Lisa and low and behold half of the cucumbers in the baby package were less than desirable. I made the executive decision to use the leftovers from a pint of tomatoes in place of some of the cucumbers and then I made it the next night, and the night after that. And then it evolved to only tomatoes. The sweetness of them with the flavor of the sesame oil and the little nibble of heat from the chili crisp oil is so so good. Visiting family a couple weeks ago I made the dish to accompany some grilled chicken and we threw in some snap peas from my brothers garden and it was like okay yes this is it. The sweetness, the snap, the perfect addition to the tomatoes. Make this while the tomatoes are fully on their programs and if you don’t enjoy tomatoes, step back to the original cucumber by following lisa’s recipe (this one is adapted to be scaled down a little bit and cut back on the chili oil because every day I get older my stomach says whoa hold up we can’t do all that.

Chili Oil, Tomato, and Snap Pea Salad
Serves honestly 2 hungry adults, maybe 4 if we’re just having some as a light side or topping

For The Dressing:
1 tablespoon soy sauce, if using low sodium make sure you test the final dish for salt, it will most likely need some
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili oil from a jar of chili crisp, if you want it spicier go up to 2 or 3, try to get mostly oil so the flavor carries through the salad a little better
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar

For the Salad:
12 oz cherry tomatoes, halved, I think halved cherry tomatoes are cutest but feel free to use grape or campari tomatoes, just make sure you quarter the larger campari variety
About 1 1/2 cups (5ish oz.) vertically sliced sugar snap peas, strings removed
Sesame seeds to garnish

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl then add the tomatoes and snap peas, toss to combine, top with sesame seeds and serve immediately. Components can be prepped separately but if the tomatoes sit too long in the dressing the acidity plays too much and breaks down the tomatoes and makes them mealy.

Cheesy Chipotle Bean Dip with Mi Rancho

Special shout out to Mi Rancho for sponsoring this post and helping keep this site/me moving/shaking/twisting.

Super Bowl Sunday is coming up this weekend and while I truly have no interest in watching the game I am invested in good food and helping anyone with the potential for a full bounty of snackable options for whoever may be in your house participating in the festivities. That’s where this bean dip comes in.

When I was a kid I distinctly remember the road trips with the can of cold bean dip with the matching accessory/bag of corn chips we’d grab and while this is loosely based on that concept it is lightyears ahead. We’re adding cheese, we’re adding salsa, we’re adding flavor , we’re adding HEAT. Heat in the form of both warming it up but also a nice little kick from the Mi Rancho Chipotle Salsa.

When they originally reached out and asked if I’d like to try their new salsas I was like absolutely yes and I’m so glad I did because they were all delicious, super flavorful with a fresh taste that you usually don’t get from too many jarred salsas.

The real stars of the show for me though were the tortilla chips. They make them with nixtamalized corn, which goes beyond the average tortilla chip and heightens the corn flavor, adding flavor to what would normally just be an empty vessel for the bean dip.

Speaking of bean dip: it’s so easy, takes three ingredients (4 if you’re ambitious enough to garnish) and maybe 10 minutes to come together? The smokey chipotle flavor and just tiniest bit of sweetness compliments the flavor of the refried beans and then of course the shredded cheese makes it all smash together into a perfect creamy dip. It’s worthy of anything that’s not Super Bowl too! Make it for any get together where you want to impress, just don’t forget the Mi Rancho.

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