Flavor Starters

Cilantro-Lime Flavor Starter

Flavor Starter Cube by somethingwewhippedup.com

What’s for dinner tonight? Or breakfast tomorrow for that matter? I’ve always got an answer in my back pocket when I’ve got a stash of flavor starter cubes in my freezer. My most recent batch came together after I found myself with an abundance of cilantro. Instead of letting it wilt away, I blended the leaves up with some garlic, salt, pepper, lime juice and olive oil and filled an ice cube tray with the mixture.

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Cilantro-Lime Flavor Starter Cubes (somethingwewhippedup.com)

The frozen cubes are a great way to get a quick meal started. Around our house, we use them most often to whip up a delicious batch of scrambled eggs that are anything but ordinary. Simply put the frozen cube in your skillet, heat and let melt. Once it’s melted, swish the herb and olive oil mixture around your pan and add eggs. Cook your eggs as you normally would and you’ll enjoy a refreshing flavor that goes way beyond just seasoning your pan with a bit of butter or oil.

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Adding a frozen flavor starter cube to a skillet (somethingwewhippedup.com)

In addition to eggs, you can use flavor starter cubes to season a pan before searing chicken or cooking up some vegetables. I’ve even used one to add a little something extra to a classic grilled cheese.

Cilantro-Lime Flavor Starter Cubes

Makes about 12

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 large bunch cilantro (about 3 to 4 cups)
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the garlic in a blender or food processor. Pulse until well chopped. Add the cilantro, lime juice and olive oil. Blend until well combined, adding more olive oil if necessary to get a liquid consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. Pour herb mixture into an ice cube tray. Freeze then transfer cubes to a zip-top bag for extended storage.

SWWU Tip 1: I don’t always fill the each well of the ice cube tray to the top. Smaller cubes are great when you’re making something for one person. Experiment making your cubes different sizes and see what works well for you.

SWWU Tip 2: Have other herbs on hand? This recipe works equally as well if you substitute parsley, basil or more. The lime juice can be substituted with lemon juice or left out entirely.

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Just a Bite

Brian and I attended a lovely potluck picnic in the park this weekend. Sure, we had lots of ideas for yummy things to make, but none of them were quite right for this event. We needed something that wouldn’t melt (chocolate desserts were out), didn’t need utensils to be enjoyed (who knew what the hosts would have on hand), it needed to be super portable (we were going to have to walk to our destination) and we needed to whip it up the morning of the event. I decided to experiment with a cheddar corn muffin that I’ve made dozens of times before. But this time, I added in some fresh basil (thanks to my coworker’s garden) and a bit of tomato paste and reduced the serving size.

Tomato, Cheddar and Basil Bites

Tomato, Cheddar and Basil Bites by somethingwewhippedup.com

The end result was quite fun. The mini muffins had a flavor reminiscent of a fancy pizza, but the basil really freshened up the whole experience. The size of these also turned out to be a bonus. The potluck was filled with so many yummy treats that everyone wanted to try. I’m glad they could enjoy just a bite of our dish and then go back for seconds if they had room later. I came home with an empty tray, so I guess they did!

Tomato, Cheddar and Basil Bites

Makes about 3 dozen

  • 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Fill a mini muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until well combined and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and buttermilk. Slowly whisk in the cooled melted butter. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two batches, mixing well between each. Stir in the tomato paste until well combined and then fold in the cheddar cheese and basil. Fill prepared muffin pan with batter (each cup should be 3/4 of the way full) and cook for 11 to 13 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a cooling rack. Repeat until remaining batter is used up.

SWWU Tip Make sure these have plenty of time to sit before you serve them, about 6 hours. If you dig in too soon (like I did), they won’t have enough time to cool and the paper liners will stick.

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