The Best Queso

I’m super excited to share this queso recipe with you. This Mexican dip is cheesy, creamy and full of fresh flavor. It’s surprisingly easy to make and…

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best queso recipe

I’m super excited to share this queso recipe with you. This Mexican dip is cheesy, creamy and full of fresh flavor. It’s surprisingly easy to make and utterly irresistible.

This recipe uses a simple secret ingredient—cream cheese—to achieve its gloriously creamy texture and light tang. No flour and no fussy roux required here (as a bonus, this queso is gluten free).

This stovetop queso possesses all of Velveeta’s positive attributes, but it tastes a million times nicer. It even cools down with grace, developing just a slight skin on top that really doesn’t detract from its appeal.

queso ingredients

If you’re like me, you probably don’t need an excuse to eat queso while sipping a margarita. I grew up around a lot of Tex-Mex food and like to consider myself a queso connoisseur. If queso is on the menu, I’ve likely sampled it.

My husband, on the other hand, exercises an impressive amount of restraint when it comes to queso. He tells me he doesn’t like it. (He’s generally a rational man, though I question him in cheese-related matters.) This queso is an exception to his rule. He loves it.

We both agree that this is the best queso we’ve ever had. Try it, and I hope you’ll say the same!

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Easy Tapenade

Olive lovers, tapenade is for you! Tapenade is an olive spread or dip hailing from the Provence region in France. It’s bold, zippy, briny and salty, though…

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easy tapenade recipe

Olive lovers, tapenade is for you! Tapenade is an olive spread or dip hailing from the Provence region in France. It’s bold, zippy, briny and salty, though we’ll be sure to keep the salt level in check.

Served with crostini or crackers, tapenade is a wonderful appetizer with drinks. It offers some welcome contrast when served with creamy dips, like hummus or spinach artichoke dip. You can also spread it onto sandwiches, dollop it onto salads, and more. Tapenade will keep for a week or two in the fridge, so you’ll find many uses for it.

tapenade ingredients

Tapenade is named after the Provençal word for capers, tapenas. Over the years, olives have become the predominant ingredient, and I used capers as a subtle accent. Similar olive spreads have been served in the Mediterranean for ages, which is why tapenade is a natural pairing with your favorite Mediterranean flavors.

Traditional tapenade also includes anchovies, but being vegetarian, I omitted them. This dip is loaded with complex flavor regardless, and it’s suitable for vegans and those with shellfish allergies as well.

To make this easy tapenade, you’ll need just a few basic ingredients and a food processor. It comes together in about 10 minutes with mostly pantry ingredients! You’ll need Castelvetrano and Kalamata olives, fresh parsley, capers, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. Let’s make some already.

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Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip

This hot spinach artichoke dip is pure comfort food. Sign me up. This dip recipe comes together in under 20 minutes with basic ingredients: spinach, artichoke, cream…

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creamy spinach artichoke dip recipe

This hot spinach artichoke dip is pure comfort food. Sign me up. This dip recipe comes together in under 20 minutes with basic ingredients: spinach, artichoke, cream cheese, sour cream, plus green onions and poblano pepper or bell pepper.

We’ll cook the green onions until they’re a little golden and frazzled around the edges, which is an easy way to yield tons of flavor. I’m obsessed with using lightly spicy, tender poblanos in this recipe (a great twist on standard spinach artichoke dip) but you can use a red bell pepper for a mild dip (also delicious!).

creamy spinach artichoke dip ingredients

The end result is not the most beautiful dip in the world, but it’s definitely amongst the most tasty. It’s creamy and indulgent, yet tastes fresh and full of flavor. This dip is fully loaded with veggies and greens, so it’s actually more redeeming than you might think.

I hope you’ll whip together this spinach artichoke dip on the holidays, or for movie nights, or just any time you get a hankering for it. I’m daydreaming about serving this dip at parties next year!

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Easy Pizza Sauce

Make this lively red pizza sauce recipe for your homemade pizzas! It comes together with basic pantry ingredients in about five minutes, no cooking required. It’s like…

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easy pizza sauce recipe

Make this lively red pizza sauce recipe for your homemade pizzas! It comes together with basic pantry ingredients in about five minutes, no cooking required. It’s like magic.

This recipe yields a classic Italian red sauce base for your home-baked pizza pies. Despite its quick preparation, this sauce tastes rich and full of flavor, which further develops during the pizza’s blast in a high-heat oven.

pizza sauce ingredients

I like my sauce to have a bit of texture to it, and this sauce strikes the perfect balance. Many pizza sauces are either thick and dull or watery and flavorless. Not this one.

I originally developed this sauce recipe for a pizza recipe in my cookbook, Love Real Food. Since I just re-shared my favorite pizza dough recipe, I’m providing my go-to pizza sauce to go along with it.

Both the dough and the sauce come together very quickly, so you can enjoy homemade pizza with minimal fuss. How about pizza tonight?

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Caponata

Let’s make homemade caponata! This classic Sicilian appetizer or side dish is perfect for late summer meals. This recipe combines roasted (not fried) eggplant with sautéed bell…

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caponata with roasted eggplant

Let’s make homemade caponata! This classic Sicilian appetizer or side dish is perfect for late summer meals. This recipe combines roasted (not fried) eggplant with sautéed bell pepper, celery, tomatoes, olives and capers. Red wine vinegar and honey make it irresistibly tangy and sweet. If you generally enjoy these bold flavors, you’re going to love caponata.

Since international travel is largely off the table, I’ve been traveling vicariously through my food. This caponata is the perfect example. I’ve yet to make my way to Sicily to sample authentic caponata, but learning to make this dish has deepened my desire to explore the island. Mark my words, I’ll get there someday.

caponata ingredients

Caponata recipes vary from region to region and household to household. This recipe is where I landed. I took some cooking cues from my ratatouille recipe, which also features roasted eggplant stirred into a simmering tomato sauce. Caponata’s flavors are even deeper and more complex largely due to the intense agrodolce factor, or the interplay between sweet (honey and raisins) and sour (vinegar and capers).

I can’t claim this recipe is entirely authentic, but I hope it offers you a little taste of Sicily.

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Easy Homemade Pickles

What took me so long to make classic pickles? As it turns out, homemade dill pickles are simple, easy and delicious. They’re the perfect little summertime project,…

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best cucumber pickles recipe

What took me so long to make classic pickles? As it turns out, homemade dill pickles are simple, easy and delicious. They’re the perfect little summertime project, if you even want to call it that. These pickles are ready after a short chill in the refrigerator (as little as one hour), and they keep for several weeks.

These pickles are tangy and refreshing, nice and crisp, and offer garden-fresh flavor. They remind me of Claussen or Grillo’s pickles—but they’re even better. In short, I’m in love with this refrigerator pickle recipe and I think you will be, too.

how to slice cucumbers

These pickles are made with simple ingredients, including vinegar (I prefer rice vinegar’s mild flavor), fresh dill (technically optional, but delicious), a couple cloves of garlic, and a few basic seasonings.

I added a touch of sweetener, too—just enough to cut the bite of vinegar. These pickles are decidedly tangy, and nowhere near “bread and butter” territory. However, the sweetness level is entirely up to you.

These pickles aren’t overwhelmingly salty, either, yet they’re fully seasoned. They are irresistibly just right—perfect for burgers, for snacking, and more.

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Cilantro Hemp Pesto

Looking for an easy way to liven up your meals? Add a fresh sauce! Let me introduce you to my latest favorite—this refreshing cilantro and hemp seed…

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cilantro hemp pesto recipe

Looking for an easy way to liven up your meals? Add a fresh sauce! Let me introduce you to my latest favorite—this refreshing cilantro and hemp seed pesto. It’s made simply with fresh cilantro, hemp seeds, garlic, optional jalapeño (for some heat) and olive oil.

Even if you typically don’t love cilantro, there’s a strong chance you’ll enjoy this sauce. My husband is typically in the “no cilantro” camp, but he kept going back for spoonfuls of this pesto.

how to make cilantro hemp pesto

I’m using the term “pesto” loosely here, since traditional basil pesto is made with basil, pine nuts and Parmesan. Instead of pine nuts, I used hemp seeds, which are high in protein and key minerals, including potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.

When blended, the hemp seeds become so nice and creamy that this sauce tastes complete without cheese. This nut-free and dairy-free pesto would be great with basil as well.

This recipe is inspired by a cilantro-hemp sauce that I enjoyed at True Foods Kitchen in Kansas City. They serve it on their “Ancient Grains Bowl,” which is topped with sweet potatoes, onions, portobello mushrooms and avocado. Naturally, this sauce goes well with all of the above, as well as almost any meal with Mexican-inspired flavors. You’ll find more ideas below!

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Easy Green Goddess Dressing

This green goddess dressing is exactly what we need right now. It’s creamy, tangy, and fully loaded with fresh, herbal flavor. I’ve savored it by the spoonful…

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easy green goddess dressing recipe

This green goddess dressing is exactly what we need right now. It’s creamy, tangy, and fully loaded with fresh, herbal flavor. I’ve savored it by the spoonful while imagining sunny days ahead.

The Green Goddess is going to carry us through to spring. We’re going to make it. I can feel it.

herbs for green goddess dressing

I put some soup recipe development on hold when I finalized this dressing. I’ll figure it out soon enough (hint: it’s also green). I’m too busy drizzling this versatile dressing over anything and everything.

The funny thing about this green goddess dressing recipe is that it’s so very simple. I tried adding lemon juice and olive oil, and they only distracted from the beautiful combination of good Greek yogurt and fresh herbs.

In fact, you can use any combination of fresh herbs for this recipe. That leftover parsley and cilantro in the fridge? Let’s use ’em up.

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How to Roast Garlic

Roasted garlic is a revelation. Have you tried it? When you roast garlic long enough, it transforms from pungent and crisp to mellow and soft. It’s irresistibly…

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best roasted garlic recipe

Roasted garlic is a revelation. Have you tried it? When you roast garlic long enough, it transforms from pungent and crisp to mellow and soft. It’s irresistibly caramelized and spreads over bread like butter.

Roasted garlic seems indulgent, but it’s really just garlic with a little bit of olive oil. Like I said, it’s a revelation.

how to prepare garlic for roasting

I’ve loved roasted garlic since my friend introduced me to it in college. We developed a funny routine of roasting tons of garlic, which we enjoyed with crusty bread, too much red wine, and episode after episode of Arrested Development.

Back then, we wrapped our garlic in foil, which is what most roasted garlic recipes will tell you to do. These days, I try to minimize our aluminum exposure and cooking waste whenever possible. So, I came up with a foil-free method using basic cooking tools! Let’s roast some garlic.

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Toasted Everything Bagel Seasoning

Do you love everything bagels? Me, too. They’ve always been my favorite. When we were little, our parents would take us to the bagel shop on Sundays.…

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toasted everything bagel seasoning recipe

Do you love everything bagels? Me, too. They’ve always been my favorite. When we were little, our parents would take us to the bagel shop on Sundays. I’d jump up and down for an everything bagel, while my brothers went for the asiago or cinnamon raisin options. No, thanks!

As an adult, I’ve begrudgingly come to realize that white bread doesn’t make me feel very good. So, I opt for whole grain bagels when bagels present themselves, even though what I really want is an everything bagel.

everything bagel seasoning ingredients

Imagine my delight when I discovered how to make my own everything bagel spice blend. Now I can make any bagel an everything bagel! I can even make toast taste like an everything bagel. You can use this blend on much more, as you’ll see below.

The trick to making the best everything bagel seasoning is to toast it in a skillet. If you think about it, everything bagels go through the oven with the seeds and spices on the outside, so the toasted flavor is key. Freshly toasted everything bagel seasoning tastes way better than store-bought blends, like Trader Joe’s “Everything But the Bagel” blend. Let’s make some.

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