Category Archives: Sauces & Dressings

Green Chile Sauce Quest

I like challenges, especially when it is a food challenge levied by my husband.  There is no one on the planet I want to please more with efforts I bring to the dinner table.  From time to time, he will mention a meal he had while traveling or point to a recipe in a cooking magazine, requesting I replicate it.

The magazines don’t give me near the fit a fond dining experience does, though sometimes he provides a photo. Whether trying to match childhood memories of Grandma’s Molasses Cookies or the swoon-worthy Wagyu filet at a steakhouse in Phoenix, trying to recreate a dish or flavor experienced by someone else had can be daunting.  I do appreciate his unwavering confidence.

This brings us to Green Chile Sauce.  A couple of years ago while Matt was working in New Mexico, the stories of amazing green chile sauce started rolling in. Served on just about anything that would hold still, New Mexico Green Chile Sauce is known for its superior status.  Time and again, it drew him back to a small cafe for breakfast, and then lunch, for the chance to savor the saporous sauce.

I know, I’ve heard it before how easy green chile sauce is to make, but if that is so, why do so many taste flat, or lack depth?  With fresh green chilies, a few recipes (links below), and Matt’s savvy culinary memory to use as a guide, it’s time to rise to the challenge—make the best green chile sauce on the planet outside New Mexico (or maybe anywhere).  Somehow, so long as he believes I can, I am willing to try.

Beef and Green Chile Chili at Fine Cooking

New Mexico Breakfast and Green Chile Sauce at I love New Mexico

Traditional Style New Mexico Green Chile Sauce at

Green Chile Sauce at

New Mexico Green Chile Sauce Recipe at MJ’s Kitchen

Of course, your comments, suggestions, recipe hints are all welcome 🙂


Grilled Sea Scallops With Pasta Rags and Homemade Pesto: Test Kitchen Tuesday

Each week as I review scores of recipes for Test Kitchen Tuesday, I am reminded of the endless possibilities in the culinary world—flavors, textures, temperatures, all waiting to be explored.  Like any great adventure, disappointment and thrill are part of the risk and reward.  Last week, the Tuscan Garlic Chicken Pasta was a disappointment. However, summer is the perfect time to make basil pesto and grill fish, so my hope is this week will be in the thrill category.  I will substitute cod in this dish as well as gluten-free pasta, since I already have it on hand. Though not as briny as scallops, cod should be a satisfactory choice—we shall see!

I hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions.
3.  Subscribe to comments so you can see what others have done.
4.  If you are especially proud of your creation, send a photo to, or include a link to your site with your comment.

Grilled Sea Scallops With Pasta Rags and Homemade Pesto

Source: Emeril Lagasse
Serves 4-6
1      pound  fresh pasta sheets
3      tablespoons  olive oil — plus
1      cup  olive oil
Salt — to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper — to taste
2      cups  fresh basil leaves – (packed)
1/2     cup  pine nuts — toasted
2       teaspoons  chopped garlic
1/4     cup  grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
24     fresh sea scallops — cleaned
1       pint  tear or pear tomatoes, red or yellow
1       pound  fresh asparagus — blanched
1       pound  fresh chanterelle mushrooms — cleaned

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Tear the pasta into 1-inch pieces.  Drizzle a little olive oil into the water and add the pasta.  Cook until tender, about 4 to 6 minutes.  Remove from the water and drain.

In a mixing bowl, toss the pasta with a tablespoon of the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In an electric blender, combine the basil, nuts, garlic and cheese.  Blend thoroughly.  Season with salt and pepper.  With the blender running, slowly drizzle in 1 cup of the oil.  The mixture will be thick.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Preheat the grill.  Season the scallops with a tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place the scallops on the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until the scallops are firm to the touch.

In a sauté pan, over medium heat, add the remaining tablespoon of the oil.  When the oil is hot, add the tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sauté for 2 minutes.  Add the asparagus and mushrooms.  Season with salt and pepper.  Continue to sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the mushrooms are wilted.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the pasta with the vegetables and pesto.  Mix well.  Add the cheese and mix well.  Readjust the seasonings if needed.  Mound the pasta in the center of each serving plate.  Lay the scallops over the pasta.  Garnish with parsley.

Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Béarnaise Sauce

Tender lamb chops cooked over a fire accented with a béarnaise sauce turns a Saturday evening into a special occasion every time.  Bits of rosemary and garlic cling to the loin chops, roasting along with the meat creating a fragrant, succulent lamb dinner.  It is so easy to prepare you’ll wonder why you waited for the weekend to make it. Cradle the chops in a classic sauce like béarnaise and you have a perfect herbaceous accent for lamb.

Grilled Lamb Loin Chops with Béarnaise Sauce

Serves: 6
12     whole  lamb loin chops
12     cloves  garlic — chopped
dried rosemary
sea salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

Arrange lamb chops on a rimmed baking sheet. Generously drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Rub garlic and rosemary over chops until covered. Transfer to a container or Ziploc bag and refrigerate at least 6 hours.

Light a charcoal grill and spread coals on only one side of the grill to allow for a cool zone on the other side. Place lamb directly over hot coals to sear each side 1-2 minutes, then rotate to the cool zone as needed. Grill lamb until medium-rare, about 10 minutes total, depending on size. The chops should have an internal temperature in the thickest part of the meat of 120° for medium-rare, 130° for medium.

Once done, remove chops from grill, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Serve with Béarnaise Sauce.

Béarnaise Sauce

Yields approximately 1 cup
1/4      cup  tarragon leaves
2        small  shallots — minced very fine
1        tablespoons  champagne vinegar or tarragon vinegar
1/4      cup  dry white wine
3        egg yolks
8        tablespoons  butter — melted
pinch  white pepper
salt to taste

In a small saucepan, combine half the tarragon, shallots, vinegar, and wine over medium heat. Simmer until reduced by about half. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

In a food processor, blend pepper, yolks, and the tarragon reduction. With the processor running, slowly add the butter in a steady stream until all 8 tablespoons have been added. Remove from the processor and whisk-in remaining tarragon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Note: Sauce can be made in advance and kept warm set in a hot water bath until ready to serve.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
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BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches: Authentic Smoky Flavor From the Grill

What foodie doesn’t dream about more cooking stuff?  I know I’ve been eyeballing a Traeger Smoker for a while now with visions of smoked brisket dancing in my head. So, what am I supposed to do until the smoker fairy drops one in my lap?  Well, for now I’ll grill on cedar planks, which turns out a succulent smoky chicken, perfect for BBQ sandwiches.

Yes, Traegers can occasionally be found at Costco doing a road show, but Costco has cedar planks too, which are far easier to budget. If you have a gas grill, the planks are all you’ll need to make this smoked chicken (see photos below). I made these BBQ Chicken Sandwiches recently for a large gathering and heard from a couple of folks it was the best barbecue they had ever tasted.  Give it a try to see for yourself.

Barbecue Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Serves 6-8
8       whole  chicken thigh — bone-in, skin removed
onion powder
granulated garlic
smoked paprika
sea salt and ground black pepper
1        7″x16″  cedar plank — untreated, designed for grilling
1         large  onion — peeled and quartered
1/4       cup  water
1 1/2    cups  ketchup
1 1/2    cups  apple cider
2        tablespoons  palm coconut sugar or brown sugar
3        tablespoons  Worcestershire sauce
4        tablespoons  Dijon mustard
1/3      cup  molasses
1/2      teaspoon  ground black pepper
4        tablespoons  apple cider vinegar
1        tablespoon  liquid smoke flavoring
1        tablespoon  olive oil
4       medium cloves  garlic — minced
1        tablespoon  chili powder
1/4      teaspoon  cayenne pepper or a splash or two of Chipotle Tobasco

Soak cedar plank in water for an hour or so. Remove skin from chicken thighs. Sprinkle both sides of chicken pieces with onion powder, granulated garlic, paprika, salt and pepper.

On a gas grill, place soaked cedar plank directly over medium heat and allow wood to get hot, 3-5 minutes. Place chicken directly on the cedar plank and cook over medium-low heat (this will depend on the grill, so you may have to adjust the temp to be sure the plank stays hot enough).

As the chicken cooks, rotate one or two pieces at a time and cook directly on the grill for a few minutes, then back to the plank. This will help the chicken cook through. During the cooking process, the wood plank will char and smoke which is ideal. If the wood should begin to catch fire, simply spray those parts with a little water.

Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and allow to cool until easy to handle. This is the time to make the sauce.

FOR THE SAUCE: Process onion and water in food processor until pureed. Pass mixture through fine-mesh strainer into liquid measuring cup, pressing on solids; this should produce approximately 3/4 cup strained onion juice. Discard solids.

Whisk onion puree, ketchup, apple cider, sugar, Worcestershire, mustard, molasses, pepper, cider vinegar, and liquid smoke together in medium bowl. Heat oil in nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until shimmering; add garlic, chili powder, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in ketchup mixture; increase heat to medium-high, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until flavors meld and sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. This will yield approximately 4 cups of sauce.

Remove chicken from the bone with fingers. Remove any gristle, fat, or connective tissue so that only the meat remains. Pull chicken meat apart so that it is in small strips and pieces.

To serve, toss chicken with desired amount of sauce in a separate large skillet or oven dish–add as little or as much sauce as you prefer. Extra sauce can be stored in the refrigerator. Heat chicken with sauce in the skillet over medium-low heat or in the oven at 350° until incorporated and heated through. Serve on whole wheat buns with coleslaw on top if desired.

BBQ Chicken Sandwich without Coleslaw

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Hearth & Soul Hop
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania

Fish Tacos: Thank you, Baja!

We lived in California years ago, but my first introduction to fish tacos was at Rubio’s in Denver of all places.  I was hooked right away, the textures and flavors are addictive with crisp slaw, tender fish, a squeeze of lime, all cradled in your hand for quick delivery. Where the fish taco originated still raises debate according to this story in Sunset.  As far as I’m concerned, Ralph Rubio got it right when he opened his restaurant near Mission Bay 28 years ago.

This inspired recipe includes subtle twists on the tacos that won my heart—better oil for frying and adding a few more fresh items to fill the warm tortillas alongside the fish—there is even a grilling option if you prefer to avoid the stove when it is hot outside. Rubio’s soft corn tortillas are unique to the restaurant, but The Tortilla Factory Corn Tortillas are pretty close.  The white sauce is mild and cools the spice of the salsa, but if you are looking for more heat, Habanero-Cilantro Taco Sauce is another option.  Here’s to Baja!

Fish Tacos

Serves 4
3      med white fish fillets (Mahi Mahi, Halibut, Cod) — cut into 1″ x 4″ strips
1       whole  lime — cut into wedges
1/2     head  cabbage — thinly shredded
1       small  carrot — peeled and grated
1/2     cup  cilantro — coarsely chopped
1/2     whole  avocado — peeled and sliced
1        cup  salsa (recipe below)
8       small  corn tortillas
salt & pepper
coconut oil

For the Sauce:
1/4     cup  mayonnaise
1/4     cup  plain yogurt

For the Beer Batter:
3/4     cup  beer
3/4     cup  flour
1/2      teaspoon  salt
1/2      teaspoon  garlic powder

Squeeze half of the lime over the fish, sprinkle with salt and pepper; allow fish to marinate while prepping the other ingredients.  Mix cabbage, carrot, and one tablespoon of the chopped cilantro together.  Once the vegetables and sauces are prepped, mix beer batter in a bowl wide enough to dip the fish.

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet by about an 1/8″.  Dry fish with paper towels and dip into beer batter, shaking off any excess so there is a thin coating. Place fish in hot oil and cook on each side about 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Fill warm tortillas with fish, cabbage slaw, salsa, and garnish with avocado, cilantro, and sauce. Finish with a squeeze of lime on each taco just before serving.

To grill the fish instead of frying, leave the fish whole until after it is grilled. Omit the beer batter and add the garlic powder to the fish while marinating. Grill over medium heat on a gas grill for 3-4 minutes on each side.


Serves 8
1/3     yellow onions — chopped fine
1/4     Serrano pepper — chopped fine
1/4     green pepper — chopped fine
1/2     yellow chili pepper, mild — chopped fine
1         clove  garlic — chopped fine
5         Roma tomatoes — coarsely chopped
1/2     bunch cilantro leaves — coarsely chopped
2         teaspoons  lime juice
1/2     teaspoon  salt — to taste

Put garlic, peppers, and onion in food processor and pulse to chop fine. Cut stems off of cilantro just below leaves.  Add tomatoes and cilantro to processor and pulse to chop slowly so that tomatoes do not become too small.  Remove from processor and squeeze fresh lime over mixture, stir well.  Add salt and stir well. Serve with tortilla or pita chips.

NOTES: For hotter flavor use whole Serrano pepper.

Posted on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
SS & GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday
Mom Trends Food Friday
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday

Yogurt-Marinated Grilled Chicken: Test Kitchen Tuesday

Boneless, skinless grilled chicken breasts are easy to make and freeze, versatile for an array of meals throughout the week.  Though lean and quick cooking, chicken breast needs help in the flavor department, so I am always on the hunt for good marinades. This recipe from Bon Appétit looks promising for this week’s Test Kitchen Tuesday—keeping the grill lit and the oven turned off during hot summer weather.

I hope you join me in this delicious adventure!

In the next week or so:

1.  Make the recipe (posted below)
2.  Leave a comment describing your experience, opinion, adjustments, or suggestions.  ♥ If you do focus on altering it to economize, choose healthier ingredients or techniques, make it gluten-free/allergy sensitive, embellish for entertaining, or incorporate into batch/once-a-month cooking, please mention that too.
3.  Subscribe to comments so you can see what others have done.
4.  If you are especially proud of your creation, snap a photo and send it to me at so it can be included in this post or include a link to your site with your comment.

Yogurt-Marinated Grilled Chicken

Serves: 6
8      skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 3 pounds)
2      cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1       cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems — coarsely chopped
1/2     large  onion — coarsely chopped
1/3     cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
6       garlic cloves — coarsely chopped
1       tablespoon  fresh lime juice
1       tablespoon  garam masala
2      teaspoons  kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1       teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
1       2″ piece  fresh ginger — peeled and chopped

Working with one chicken breast at a time, put chicken between 2 sheets of waxed paper and pound to 1/2″ thickness. Transfer chicken breasts to a resealable plastic bag.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken, seal bag, and turn to coat. Marinate chicken in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Build a medium fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium-high. Brush grill grates with oil. Scrape excess marinade off chicken; season with salt. Grill chicken, turning once, until browned and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side.

NOTES : This dish is truly indestructible because the cutlets marinate in lots of yogurt, olive oil, and salt. That way they stay juicy, briny, and flavorful. Because they’re pounded thin, they cook quickly and evenly, so there’s not a lot of time spent poking and prodding and stressing about whether they’re done.

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
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July 4th BBQ Menu: A Declaration of Flavor

Before loading the blanket in the car and heading for the annual fireworks and funnel cakes extravaganza, something has to hit the grill for the evening barbecue.  Everyone has a favorite that speaks “July 4th backyard barbecue” to them—pasta salad, watermelon, hamburgers, macaroni salad, baked beans, BBQ pork sandwiches, potato salad, steaks, apple pie, and sweet iced tea—all of it worthy of celebrating independence, American-style.

In case you are looking to add something new to your list of favorites or planning a barbecue of your own for the first time, here are a few recipes to consider.  The beauty of this menu is the timing of it all.  Guests can munch on hummus or salsa while ribs finish in the oven, beans stay warm in the crockpot, and dressed slaw marinates in the fridge. Meanwhile, everyone is enjoying ice-cold Strawberry Lemonade or  Rosé Sangrias as the vegetables and corn finish grilling.


Something to Nibble:
Chips & Salsa
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

The Main Attraction:
Missouri-Style Baby Back Ribs
Baked Beans
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Classic Coleslaw -or- Celery, Apple,  & Fennel Slaw
Grilled Vegetables

Smooth Sipping:
Rosé Sangria with Pineapple & Guava
Strawberry Lemonade

Sweet Endings:
Sliced Watermelon
Chocolate Dipped Fruit
Triple Chocolate Cookies

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Yield: 2 cups
6      tablespoons  tahini
1/4     cup  extra-virgin olive oil
14       ounces  chickpeas — drained and rinsed
1/2     whole  red pepper — roasted
1        large  garlic clove — minced
1/2     teaspoon  sea salt
3       tablespoons  lemon juice
2       teaspoons  chopped fresh parsley
pinch of cayenne

Roast red pepper, skin side up, under a broiler until skin blisters and is blackened in spots.  Remove from oven and place pepper in a plastic bag to cool–the steam in the bag will make it easier to remove the skin. Once the pepper has cooled, remove the skin and coarsely chop the pepper. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in small bowl or measuring cup.

Process chickpeas, roasted red peppers, garlic, salt, and cayenne in food processor until chickpeas are almost smooth.  Add lemon juice and tahini, scrape down bowl and continue to process until well incorporated, about 1 minute. With machine running, add oil in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds.

Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle with parsley, cover with plastic wrap; let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes.  Serve with pita chips or rosemary crackers.

Missouri-Style Baby Back Ribs

“Show-Me” barbecue sauce is the perfect sweet-smoky way to bring out the great flavor of tender slow-roasted ribs.
Serves: 4-6
1-2     racks baby back pork ribs (4-5 lbs)
3/4    cup  Lawry’s Mesquite Marinade (optional)
3/4    tablespoon  Italian seasoning
3/4    tablespoon  onion powder
3/4    tablespoon  garlic powder
1      tablespoon  Paul Prudhomme Meat Magic
1      tablespoon  cumin — ground
1/8    cup  Worcestershire sauce
1      teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
2      bottles  beer — preferable Guinness
1      bottle  Show-Me BBQ Sauce — or your favorite

Grill & Oven Method:
Season ribs with the Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, Meat Magic, cumin, and black pepper. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (The step of seasoning overnight can be skipped if there is a time constraint.) In a charcoal grill, arrange hot coals on one side in the bottom of the grill to create a hot side and a cool side. Grill ribs over coals to sear, rotating to cool side of grill to avoid charring.

Grill for 30-40 minutes to allow meat to pick up smoky flavor. Remove from grill and place on a rack in a roasting pan. Baste with marinade and Worcestershire sauce. Pour beer in the bottom of the pan and cover with a tent of aluminum foil. Bake at 325° for 3 hours or until meat is tender and  loosening from the bone. Uncover, baste with barbecue sauce and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until sauce caramelizes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut ribs between the bones and serve.

Oven Method:
Season ribs with the Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, Meat Magic, cumin, and black pepper. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (The step of seasoning overnight can be skipped if there is a time constraint.) Heat oven to 325°F.

Place ribs in roasting pan and evenly baste seasoned ribs with marinade and Worcestershire sauce. Pour beer in the bottom of the pan and cover with a tent of aluminum foil. Bake at 325° for 3-4 hours or until meat is tender and loosening from the bone. Uncover, baste with barbecue sauce, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until sauce caramelizes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut ribs between the bones and serve.

NOTES: Ribs can be prepared in advance and frozen. When prepared ahead of time, omit barbecue sauce until ribs are reheated.

Grilled Vegetables

Serves: 4-6
1       medium  zucchini — sliced 1/4″ thick, lengthwise
1       medium  yellow summer squash — sliced 1/4″ thick, lengthwise
2       large  sweet onions — sliced 1/4″ thick, in rings
1        whole  red bell pepper — cut into 2″ pieces
1        whole  yellow bell pepper
1       pound  cherry tomatoes — stems removed
10       cloves  garlic — unpeeled
salt and pepper
favorite spice such as Italian seasoning, curry, granulated garlic, etc.

Prep vegetables as directed. Skewer peppers together, cherry tomatoes together, and garlic cloves together.

Arrange prepared vegetables and skewers on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and any favorite spice— Italian seasoning, curry, granulated garlic, etc. (simple salt & pepper works great by itself too).

Let vegetables sit for 10-15 minutes and then grill over med-high heat until just tender and striped with grill marks. Remove each type of vegetable when done and place back on rimmed baking sheet.

Remove skewers from tomatoes, peppers, and garlic.  Remove peel from garlic  and slice squash (roasted garlic should pop right out).  Mix vegetables together in a large serving tray and serve warm.

NOTES: Smaller squash can be halved lengthwise rather than cut into slices. By placing like items on skewers–tomatoes with tomatoes, pepper with peppers, etc.–each one can be removed from the heat when done without leaving other items uncooked. Finished vegetables can be placed in a warm oven until ready to serve.

So, what food says, “July 4th backyard bBQ” to you?

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
Mom Trends Friday Foods
Girlichef Friday Potluck
Real Food Whole Health Fresh Bites Friday
Hearth & Soul Blog Hop
Real Food Whole Health Traditional Tuesdays
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania