Last Minute Dip

Are you searching for a tasty dip or appetizer for last minute company or a get together? This dip is only three ingredients and literally can be made in seconds. All you need is a softened brock of cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese, a packet of Sazón, and some basil pesto.

Ingredients:

1 block of cream cheese or Neufchâtel cheese

1 packet of Sazón (found in the Latin foods isle)

1/4 cup of basil pesto

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Adjust to taste by using more or less pesto. Serve with crackers or veggies.

Oregano Pesto

A few years ago, I repurposed a very old mattress box springs into a raised herb garden. The oregano I planted has made it through a couple winters and continued to grow stronger each spring. This is good. Southern Illinois seems to have a climate that pleases oregano.

One of my favorite meal prep uses for oregano is in pesto. The other night, I had walnuts and some manchego cheese nearing their expiration. So, you guessed it. Pesto they became. I tend to switch up the cheese and nut type with whatever I have that seems like it makes sense–such as parmesan and pine nuts or even sunflower seeds. You do want to use a harder cheese, with a consistency such as parmesan, so that you don’t end up with a gooey mess.

Once made, I like to spoon my pesto into pint canning jars and top each with a little pool of olive oil at the top to help keep it from drying in the fridge or freezer. Ideally, the pesto jars should keep for a couple weeks in the fridge or a few months in the freezer. Just make sure whatever you store it in is airtight and kept at a food safe temperature as this is not a canning process. (Simply using a canning jar does not make it canned…) You can also freeze it in ice cube trays and pop the cubes into a freezer bag for storage.

Oregano pesto is handy thing to have in the fridge on standby. It adds an extra layer of flavor to soups and sandwiches and can be added to omelets or egg dishes. Pesto also stands in great as a wet rub on meat. Be creative. It is wonderful as a spread itself or mixed with other ingredients to make other variations.

This is the basic recipe:

Ingredients:
clean, fresh oregano, approximately two to three cups
cheese–such as manchego or parmesan, approximately one and a half cups grated
nuts–such as pine nuts or walnuts, about one cup
juice of one lemon
honey (or sugar), about a tblsp
kosher salt or sea salt
crushed black pepper
one clove garlic, minced
about a 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions
:
1. Chop together the oregano, cheese, nuts, lemon juice, honey, salt, pepper, and garlic in the food processor.
2. Slowly drizzle in olive oil.
Add more olive oil for a thinner pesto if desired.
You may also use a traditional mortar & pestle method to combine ingredients if desired.