Copycat Puesto Pistachio Salsa

Puesto is a California based mexican restaurant. They have great food, a good vibe and great margaritas. But let’s talk about the pistachio salsa they serve. The first time I went there, they brought out the chips and red salsa. Ok, so that was good….yeah, yeah. But there was this little tiny cup of green stuff. I tried it and holy crap, I was like whaaaaaaaaattttt?????? I asked the server what it was and she explained that it was their special pistachio sauce. I asked for more and she looked at me like I was crazy.

Apparently they aren’t overly generous with it since “pistachios are pricey”. I suggested that they charge for it if it’s that pricey, but don’t be stingy with it, because I sure would pay for it! Back then, it wasn’t even listed on their menu. The next time I went, I wasn’t served any and had to ask for it. Once again, out came the tiny little serving. I’m not kidding you when I say the serving size is tiny. You get maybe 1/4 cup of it. Geeeesh.

I was obsessed with this green concoction. I get like that when I discover something new. I will have something over and over and over until I tire of it. I tried to copy it but it never came out right. Come to find out, I was making it far more complicated than it really was.

I stumbled across a recipe recently and was shocked at how easy it is. I was really surprised to learn there was water in the recipe! I made one little tweak from the recipe and that was by adding a bit of fresh lime juice. I am so excited and now I can have as much as I want until I get sick of it. I may even try making it with toasted pumpkin seeds instead of pistachios. Ohhhhh, that sounds pretty darned good actually.

I really hope you will try this recipe. Homemade fried chips, a bowl of this (not a tiny little serving like the restaurant) and a margarita……ahhhhhhhhhhhh, I am happy. You will be too!

Pistachio Salsa

2 fresh serrano peppers (I would start with 1 and if you like more heat, add another)
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 3/4 cup shelled pistachios
juice of half of a fresh lime
1 cup of water (Don’t just pour it all in at once. Just add a bit at a time to desired consistency) I did use 1 cup
salt to taste

In a skillet with a bit of oil, fry the peppers and garlic until blistered and lightly browned. Put them into a food proccessor and pulse until its all minced up.

Roughly chop pistachios (I used a meat tenderizer and pounded the hell outta them! Then place them into the food processor with the peppers and garlic. Add a bit of the water and pulse, pulse. Keep adding water until you have the consistency of a regular salsa. Mix in the lime juice and salt to taste.

Serving ideas:

-as a dip with tortilla chips
-spoon on tacos
-great on fish or baked chicken

Easy Asian Skirt Steak…..

I love beef. I love chicken and fish too, but I always want beef. I crave steaks all the time. One of my favorite cuts of beef is a good skirt steak. I don’t know why, but it’s hard to find skirt steak in the grocery stores anymore. So, when I do see them I get so excited and happy. They are so flavorful and my mouth is watering now as I write this post. 🙂

My favorite way to cook a skirt is to marinate it and put it under the broiler. But I have such a crappy broiler so I can’t do that. Damn oven. Grilling them is good too but why bother with the charcoal, waiting for coals to get hot, blah blah, when the steak is going to be on for such a short time! Geesh.

So I get out my good ol cast iron skillet. I recently purchased Geoffrey Zakarian’s (Food TV chef) non stick cast iron pan. I love this skillet……..I use it all the time….love, love. I’m going to order the bigger one I think. Geoffrey, are you listening? I think I should get a little commission for telling everyone about your wonderful skillet! Hahahah.

Ok, back to the steak. You don’t have to use a non stick cast iron. But I highly recommend using a cast iron. Don’t try using a regular non stick pan. It just won’t be the same.

For this particular steak, I usually end up marinating for only 3 hours because I get impatient, but the longer the better. You can get some pent up aggression out too, because I take a fork and poke the hell out of this meat before I marinate it. The marinade is simple and delicious. Soy sauce is good on all kinds of meat!

Lets get started…

Easy Asian Skirt Steak

Skirt steak (I used 2 pounds)
3 Tblsp olive oil or vegetable oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
2 Tblsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp red chili pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a bowl, mix together the oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chili flakes and black pepper.

Place the skirt steak in a dish or container large enough to lay out the skirt steak. With a fork, poke holes all over the steak. Flip it over and poke some more. Poke, poke.

Pour the marinade over the steak and poke some more….both sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. When you’re ready to cook it, remove it from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature.

With the cast iron skillet, for medium rare: Heat the skillet at med high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil. Place the steak into the hot skillet and allow to cook for 4 minutes. Flip it and cook the other side for 4 minutes. Remove from skillet and allow it to rest for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat, but put 2 Tblsp of butter into the skillet and mix it with any little tidbits that are in the pan. Pour it over the skirt steak.

I highly recommend serving this with some rice. It’s so good. Such a favorite meal of mine.

Don’t forget, you can do this with the oven broiler or on the grill too. I have to say, it’s really good on the grill if you dont mind messing with all that. 🙂

Soft Pillowy Chocolate Cookies

What kind of cookie person are you? I would say that I am more of a chewy cookie person. But I get in these moods where all I want is a crunchy cookie. Other times I just have to have a crispy cookie. It’s not often that I want a soft fluffy cookie……I don’t know why. I stumbled across this recipe recently and since I was having a serious chocolate craving, I decided to try it.

They are good…..cakey……puffy, but they have substance to the bite. The espresso really makes the chocolate flavor intense. If you like a soft, sugar cookie and you like chocolate, you will really enjoy these. You’ll be reaching for a glass of milk and you’ll have a very happy tummy.

I made one batch of cookies and decided to use the rest of the batter to make a cookie bar. I frosted them with a smooth thin frosting and sprinkled on some pistachios. I much prefer them as cookies…..with or without this yummy frosting.

While these were good, I think I will go bake some chewy cookies now. 🙂

Soft Pillowy Chocolate Cookies

3/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tblsp brown sugar
2 Tblsp strong black coffee (I just made a wee bit of coffee using instant coffee and water)
2 cups AP flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2 eggs

Heat oven to 350.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and white sugar until well combined. Add the brown sugar, eggs and coffee. Mix thoroughly. Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and mix until well combined. Mixture will be thick. Using a 2 Tblsp scooper, place scoops on baking sheet 2″ apart and sprinkle with sugar.(or you can roll the scoops in sugar).

Bake for 10-11 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes and then place cookies on a cooling rack.

Note: I know everyone loves warm cookies out of the oven, but these are really best when completely cooled.

Frosting (optional)

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/8 cup soft butter
1 Tblsp milk

Whisk everything together and spread on cookies.

Unusual Egg Fried Rice…

Happy new year everyone! I hope you all have a great year and I hope that you are staying safe and healthy. I wish I could tell you that I will be sharing healthy recipes with you, but uhhhh that’s not really me, ya know? Hahahahah. But I will try….

I’m sure you have all made some kind of fried rice in your time, right? I know I have. Now, I almost always put scrambled egg in my fried rice. But as I’m sure most people do, I scramble the egg first, cook it and then add it to the rice.

I recently saw an episode on You Tube, of Aaron and Claire making fried rice and I was so curious. By the way, if you haven’t watched them, you just have to. They are husband and wife, live in Korea and they are big time foodies. I wanna be friends with them 🙂 They go to many restaurants and record their experience. He, Aaron, loves to cook. So he cooks and Claire eats. I want to make everything he makes!

So, anyway, he made this rice and I knew I just had to make it. He took the cool rice and mixed in 2 raw eggs, coating the rice completely. So it was like a soupy, wet rice. I was like “HOLY CRAP! Whaaaaaatttttt?” Then he fried it. Can you believe that!? What an interesting technique. Maybe some of you have seen this before, but I have not and I was so intrigued.

So I made it. I only put one egg though. I will try it with 2 next time. I also did it the way he did it….I added chopped kimchee, which is a Korean spicy pickled cabbage. You can find it at any Asian market and even in your local grocery stores now. But if you aren’t a fan of kimchee, the rice will still be yummy without it.

the rice should be coated with the raw egg. I should have used 2 eggs.
see how lightly the rice is coated with egg? I think it needs 2 eggs.
Doesn’t this look good? The color comes from the Kimchee and Kimchee juice.

Here’s what I did:

For one hungry person (me)
1 1/2 – 2 cups cold leftover rice (not freshly made hot rice)
2 eggs
2 green onions, sliced
1 Tblsp soy sauce
some minced ham (you can use bacon, chicken, shrimp, beef) Leftover steak is the best
approx 1/4 cup chopped kimchee plus 1 Tblsp of the kimchee juice (kimchee is optional)

In a skillet, fry the green onions with a bit of oil until the onions are soft. This gives the oil a nice onion flavor.

In a bowl, mix your rice with the raw eggs. It will look wet and soupy.
Pour that rice/egg mixture into the skillet with the green onions. Give it few tosses and the egg will cook on the rice. When the rice is no longer wet, add the ham, soy sauce and kimchee.

Sprinkle some green onions on top to make it purty. Yum.

Note: If you dont like kimchee, you can add bean sprouts, snow peas, carrots, bok choy.

Tangerine Pistachio Snowballs

Mexican Wedding cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs………..whatever you call them, I’m sure you have made some version of them. There is something about these that just screams Christmas!!!!

Last week I made some chocolate chip snowballs. While I love chocolate, eh, they were just not my favorites. But these fruit zesty nutty ones……Mmm-m-m-m-mm, Soooooo good. I like to slightly under bake them. They are buttery, soft little morsels that just melt in your mouth. I make them smaller too so you can just pop em in your mouth. That way you can avoid the powdered sugar lips.

As I write this post, it is only 7:00 in the morning but I just had to pop one in my mouth. Soooooooooooo good. Ok, maybe one more.

Ok, gotta go pack some up in cute little tins to give as gifts.

Tangerine Pistachio Snowballs

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar + more for dusting
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup chopped pistachios
zest of 2 tangerines (3 if they are really small) or you can use orange zest

Heat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, mix together the butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Add vanilla. Slowly mix in the flour and nuts. Dough may seem crumbly, but with your hands, smoosh it together. Roll into 1/2 inch balls, gently compressing together. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 1″ apart. Bake until set, but not brown, approx 8 – 9 minutes. Let them sit on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes and then while they are still a little warm, gently roll them in a bowl of powdered sugar. I always do a second roll in the sugar later. Don’t try to package them until they are completely cooled, otherwise all the powdered sugar will melt into the cookie which is not really a bad thing 🙂

makes about 80 little balls

Note: Any kind of nut really works with these. Or you could use dried fruits.

other flavors:

Crushed peppermint candies
lime zest and coconut
Orange zest and dried cranberries
lemon zest
You could roll the dough around 1 chocolate chip
substitute the vanilla extract with rum or bourbon