Homemade Salsa Verde

Homemade salsa verde, so fresh and simple, by @cookieandkate

Sometimes I have to remind myself that simple is best. Scratch that—I’m always reminding myself that simple can be better. It’s hard for us analytical perfectionist types to keep things simple. To let them be. To give up control over the outcome and accept that so many variables are outside of our reach.

Let’s take this salsa, for example. It was originally a component in a healthier seven-layer dip concept, but the salsa blew the dip out of the water. One part, on its own, was so much better than the other six combined. Then, I made it a couple more times, with the same ingredients, but each time, it tasted a little different.

Salsa verde ingredients

That’s just what happens with a simple recipe made with natural ingredients. You can pick up each tomatillo, squeeze it to gauge ripeness and peel back the husk to look for bright green skin, but you don’t know how flavorful it really is until you taste it. Add eleven more tomatillos to the mix, plus jalapeño that may or may not be crazy spicy, plus onion and cilantro of varying freshness, and you’ll never make a batch of salsa that tastes quite like another.

It will, however, be delicious, fresh and so much better than the salty jarred varieties. I can guarantee that much. That’s the beauty of simple recipes made with fresh, natural ingredients—they’re inevitably awesome. Don’t over think it. Trust the recipe. Adjust to suit your taste buds.

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Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

Sun-dried tomato pesto pasta with roasted vegetables, a simple and veggie-packed weeknight meal! cookieandkate.com

I had an all-American weekend full of good friends and food, punctuated by flashes and booms. It was overwhelmingly fun. You know what I mean? Since we’re all in the same boat, I thought I’d share my three-day holiday weekend recovery plan with you today.

Here it is: organic whole grain pasta, tossed with tons of roasted veggies and homemade sun-dried tomato pesto. It’s fresh, filling and leftovers keep well for lunch. Just what the doctor ordered.

sun-dried tomato pesto pasta ingredients

Sun-dried tomato pesto has been on my list for ages now, so when my friends at DeLallo asked me to create a recipe that highlights their fantastic sun-dried tomatoes, I knew just what to make. Oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes are perfect for pesto, since you can pour all of that delicious, tomato-infused extra-virgin olive oil right into the food processor.

My pesto is a riff on traditional basil pesto, with sun-dried tomatoes in addition to fresh basil. Sun-dried tomatoes are super rich in umami flavor, so they easily fill the place of Parmesan, although you can certainly add some cheese if you’d like.

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Herbed Red Potato Salad (no mayo!)

This simple, herbed red potato salad recipe will be a hit at your next potluck! cookieandkate.com

This fresh potato salad recipe is for my fellow last-minute potluck planners. When you’re scrambling to make yourself look decent and trying to scrounge together a side worth sharing and letting the dog out all at the same time? Potato salad to the rescue!

I honestly never met a potato salad I loved until I made this one. It’s a riff on classic French potato salads, which contain no mayo and lots of herbs. I opted for lemon juice instead of vinegar for a super fresh-tasting salad.

red potatoes

After some trial and error, I discovered that the key to making the best mayo-free potato salad is blending the dressing in the food processor with some starchy reserved potato cooking water. You end up with a super creamy, herby emulsification that infuses the potatoes with fresh flavor.

Another trick, which comes from the experts at America’s Test Kitchen, is to slice your potatoes before boiling, rather than afterward. That way, the potatoes don’t break down into mush when you’re tossing the salad later. Plus, your potatoes cook faster that way (five minutes!). This potato salad comes together in a flash.

Hope you all have a marvelous Fourth of July. If you need any more party recipes, click on over to my barbecue salads and sides roundup!

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What’s in Season? July Produce Guide

Learn what to do with July fruits and vegetables! Find recipes, preparation tips and more. cookieandkate.com

Welcome to July! Ninety degree weather is here and so is all the colorful summer produce that comes with it. This month’s list features quite a few of my favorites, like peaches, raspberries and tomatoes. Scroll through the preparation ideas and recipes below, then hit the farmers’ market!

Thanks again to Becky for letting me base this resource on her “Eat Seasonal” monthly seasonal produce lists. See her July screensaver here. You can pin this resource for later right here or at the bottom of the post. For more seasonal inspiration, be sure to follow us on Pinterest!

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Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Cake

Blueberry lemon yogurt cake, a healthier pound cake for summertime! cookieandkate.com

First things first. Are you on Snapchat? I am. For the longest time, dismissed it as an app that teenagers use to send scandalous photos to one another. Apparently that’s not all it’s good for, though! I’ve gotten hooked on other bloggers’ behind-the-scenes Snapchat “stories” lately.

I’ve been following Gaby (whatsgabycookin) and Lindsay and Bjork (pinchofyum) on their travel adventures, keeping up with Dana and John (minimalistbaker) and their general shenanigans and caught glimpses of Ali and her pup/our pal Henry (gimmesomeoven) during their weekend at the lake. I also saw what happened when Jessica (howsweeteats) used liquid dish soap in her dishwasher yesterday. Oh my.

lemon yogurt cake ingredients

You can find us on Snapchat over at cookieandkate! Consider it a Cookie cam. Now you can watch her fly up the ladder to steal my food while I’m trying to photograph it. I’ll show you what happens when I pull out a treat and tell her to “roll over,” too. (Spoiler: somersaults.) I’ve been throwing in some behind-the-scenes cooking experiments, too.

All this is to say, please follow us! Send me snaps of your Cookie and Kate cooking, too. I would love that.

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Cold Brew Iced Tea

Cold brew iced tea is so refreshing! No bitterness at all. cookieandkate.com

My mom made sun tea when I was little. She would fill up the same clear plastic pitcher with Lipton tea bags and water and set it out in the sun to steep. I’d go out there and marvel at the process. As an experiment, I filled cans with water and macaroni noodles and set them next to her sun tea to “cook”. Never worked, no matter how long I left them out there.

Fast forward a few years, and my mom let up on her soda-once-a-week rule. I started guzzling Dr. Pepper like she guzzled unsweetened iced tea, and I squealed every time I grabbed the wrong cup from the cup holder. Yuck!

Cold brew iced tea ingredients

Nowadays, I’ve given up the soda in favor of good clean water. I’ve always wanted to understand my mom’s iced tea thing, and I’ve finally found a way to really, truly enjoy it—cold brew!

The cold brew method reminds me of sun tea, since you’re just steeping tea in water for hours, but cold brew takes place in the refrigerator instead of the back porch. Heat brings out the tannic, bitter flavors in tea. In the absence of heat, you’re left with perfectly refreshing, super smooth tea for slow summer sipping. It isn’t bitter in the slightest.

The method itself is incredibly simple. Just combine loose-leaf tea or whole tea bags and water in a pitcher and let the tea infuse the water for 6 to 12 hours in the refrigerator (see instructions below for specifics). Strain, and you have cold-brew tea that will taste great for days!

Bon Appetit suggested that they have best results with loose-leaf tea, so I used loose-leaf here, but I’ve since been making lazy cold-brew tea by soaking whole bags in water, which tastes almost as good and is much easier to make. Another option? Steep your loose-leaf tea in a clean French press—just press down the filter to remove those loose tea leaves and pour!

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