Tag Archives: Mom’s Cookin’

My Mom’s Taco Soup

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I sit here in something of a state of disbelief as I type this post out, because I’m a bit surprised it’s taken me this long to share one of my favorite childhood meals. Trust me, it’s been on my to-blog list for quite some time. And here we are at last, right?

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This is taco soup, a perennial favorite from my family growing up. It’s hearty, filling, tasty, easy, nutritious, and my mom knew she could throw this together whenever she felt like it and no one would express anything but sheer enthusiasm at the dinner table. A welcome respite for her, I’m sure. She had the unenviable task of cooking for four fairly different palates, so everyone agreeing on all aspects of a meal didn’t happen very often.

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But I think we all agreed on taco soup. I still love it, all these years later. The first winter season we were married, I introduced Matt to this delicious family favorite, and happily, he’s joined its ranks of fandom. I try to make it once a year. And I’m so happy to finally be sharing it with you!

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Recipe notes: this is called soup, but it’s a bit thicker than traditional soup. However, it should not be as thick as chili. You should need a spoon to eat it. You can also add more chili powder if you want, my mom always added up to 2 tablespoons in addition to the Mexican spice mix. I found mine didn’t need it, but if yours does, of course feel free to add it. I think that’s it! Enjoy!

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{One Year Ago: Eggplant Parmesan Soup}
{Two Years Ago: Chipotle Collard Greens, Apple Hatch Chile Cobber}

Ingredients:
Olive oil
2 lbs. ground sirloin
1 medium onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 recipe All-Purpose Mexican/Tex-Mex Spice Mix
1 recipe Homemade Ranch Seasoning Packet
1 (12 oz.) bottle of beer
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomato, preferably fire-roasted variety
8-10 oz. frozen corn (no need to thaw)
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained
Beef stock or water, as needed
1 tbs hot sauce, such as TX Pete’s
Shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, for garnish
Tortilla chips, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat a large stockpot or Dutch oven to medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, then add the sirloin. Cook, breaking up and crumbling with a spoon or potato masher, until no traces of pink remain. Add the onion and jalapeno, plus salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the onion has softened. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add the spice mixes and stir well to combine.
Now add the beer and stir for about 30 seconds, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, corn, and pinto beans. Stir to combine, then simmer the soup for about 1 hour. Check in occasionally and add some beef stock or water if the soup is thickening too much.
Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed. Add the hot sauce. Serve with the cheese and tortilla chips to garnish.
Leftovers reheat spectacularly, and this soup will freeze well too.

Strawberry Chiffon Pie

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This deliciously addictive pie is from my childhood, a dessert we all loved and requested many multiple times over the years. This was occasionally served in lieu of birthday cake – it’s that good.

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My mom gifted me the recipe right before I got married, and for reasons I can’t fathom or explain, last week was the first time I had made it. The original recipe calls for boxed strawberry jello mix and vanilla ice cream. Since I’ve gotten away from cooking and baking with mixes, I decided to try my hand at making this a little more from scratch – and I managed to commit a large culinary sin in the process. But then, I also got away with said culinary sin, because honestly this pie tasted fantastic, it set up just fine, and no slice went uneaten.

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Instead of boxed jello mix, I used plain, unflavored gelatin. Which you’re supposed to dissolve in cold water. I used very hot water, because I’d forgotten that little rule during baking. Oops. So I proceeded, worrying the whole time if it would set up. But, it set up beautifully, and it appears that I got away with it! However, next time I will treat the gelatin properly, and that’s how I’m writing the recipe for you.

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Enjoy this one, guys – it’s so perfect for summer cook-outs and hot days!

{One Year Ago: Grilled Shrimp with Tarragon-Tabasco Butter, What is the Difference Between White and Yellow Cake?, Strawberry Banana Bread, Cream Cheese Biscuits}

Ingredients:
1 pie crust for a 9” pie plate, blind baked and cooled (I used a half recipe of this pie crust)
1 packet unflavored gelatin
4 tbs cold water
¾ cup boiling water
1 pint good quality or homemade strawberry ice cream
Pinch of salt
1 lb. fresh or good-quality frozen strawberries, thawed

Directions:
Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let it for 5 minutes. Pour the boiling water over the gelatin, and stir to combine.
Add the ice cream, in chunks, to the hot water. Stir to melt the ice cream completely. If your ice cream stops melting, microwave it in 15 second intervals until it’s melted and smooth. Add the salt and stir to combine.
If using fresh strawberries, wash and hull them. If using frozen, drain them well and blot dry with paper towels. Slice the strawberries.
Fold the strawberries into the ice cream mixture. Immediately pour into the cooled pie shell. You’ll likely have a little extra filling. Pour that into two bowls or small glasses. Place the pie, plus the extra bowls into the fridge. Let set up at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
Slice the pie into wedges and serve. Keep any leftovers chilled.

My Mom’s Blackened Catfish

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Would you even believe me if I told you Matt and I both got sick AGAIN?!?! Third time this year… He’s doing much better, but I have been hit with bronchitis and another ear infection, so I’ve been a bit slow lately. Time to play catch-up!

Last week I blogged My Mom’s Taco Salad, which is delicious and one of *very* few salads I would willingly eat growing up. This catfish is another one of hers that I ate often as a child, and one I always loved.

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Truth be told, my family of origin are/were not big seafood people. We rarely had fish at home, occasionally salmon cakes, and let me tell you, shellfish absolutely never graced our dinner table. But catfish was the crowning exception to this “rule.” Catfish we did have on a regular basis, and everyone loved it. Well, come to think of it… I know I loved it, I know both parents loved it; Megan did you love it? If not, you faked it well. 🙂

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This is not my blackening seasoning used on this fish – I’ve stuck to Mom’s version here, and I love it! Childhood faves definitely deserve a space on the food blog, I think, so I’m very happy to be posting this one today. Oh, and this seasoning works beautifully on chicken breasts, chicken wings, shrimp, other fish fillets, etc. So even if catfish isn’t your thing, take note of the spice rub and use it on your favorite protein.

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{One Year Ago: Orecchiette with Heirloom Fingerlings and Asparagus Pesto}

Ingredients:
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp lemon pepper
2 tsp steak seasoning
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
½ tsp cayenne
2 catfish fillets
2 tbs unsalted butter

Directions:
Mix all the spices, including the salt and pepper in a small bowl. Blot the catfish dry with paper towels on both sides. Liberally rub the blackening seasoning onto both sides of the fish. Pat them in with your palms.
Place a cast-iron or other nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the butter. Once it is fully melted, swirl it around the pan to evenly coat the entire surface. Carefully add the fish to the skillet and cook, flipping once, until just cooked through. Depending on thickness of fish, this will take anywhere from 7 to 12 minutes total. It’s done when it can flake apart with a fork or the edge of a metal spatula. Remove the fish to a cutting board and serve immediately.

My Mom’s Taco Salad

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Happy birthday Mom!! Yup, today is her birthday, so in honor of this day I’m posting one of my favorite things she made for us regularly while I was growing up. Please meet…. the only salad I willingly ate as a child!! It’s a miracle! Though truth be told, I probably picked out the lettuce….

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This one is so delicious, and I always loved it. It’s Tex-Mex to the core, extremely flavorful, and pretty adaptable to your own tastes. It’s perfect for when you want a rich, hearty Tex-Mex fix but the weather is too warm for chili (which is about half the year where I grew up).

I received this recipe around the time when I got married, and I’ve definitely made it from time to time over the years (Matt loves it). It deserves a space on the blog. I haven’t really changed it much except to make the dressing myself. My mom always uses Thousand Island dressing for this, and I have too; I just made it myself, which is extremely easy to do!

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This is a wonderful recipe to have in your repertoire – it’s very easy and perfect for tired, busy weeknights. Thank you Mom!! And I hope you have a wonderful birthday celebration today!

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{One Year Ago: Fattoush Salad, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding, Salted Honey Pie, Rhubarb Crisp}

Ingredients:
DRESSING:
1 cup mayo
½ cup ketchup
1/3 cup pickle relish
1 tbs chopped jarred pimentos
Couple dashes of hot sauce
Salt and pepper

SALAD:
Olive oil
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 small-medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 (15 oz.) can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can sliced black olives, drained
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped, divided
1-2 heads of iceberg lettuce, cored and thinly sliced
1 avocado, chopped
Shredded cheddar
Crushed tortilla chips

Directions:
First make the dressing. Combine the mayonnaise and ketchup in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk or stir until well combined. Refrigerate until needed.
Now make the salad. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and add the sirloin. Use a spoon or a potato masher to break up the meat. Cook until no traces of pink remain and it is nicely crumbled. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno and cook another 5 or so minutes, until the onion has softened and appears translucent. Add the chili powder and cumin, plus season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.
Shut off the heat. Add the kidney beans, black olives, and 2 of the chopped tomatoes. Stir to combine. Let this meat mixture cool slightly while you prep the salad ingredients.
To assemble, place a nice amount of lettuce on a dinner plate. Top with some of the taco meat, then spoon some Thousand Island dressing on the meat and lettuce. Garnish with avocado, cheddar, and tortilla chips.

Bourbon Pecan Pie #SundaySupper

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Welcome to Sunday Supper! Since it’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving, our theme this week was being thankful. We were to make a dish appropriate for either Thanksgiving or Hanukkah, and to write about something for which we are thankful. In writing about gratitude, I decided to talk about the name of my blog.

prepping pecan pie

I’m very thankful to be from Texas. We all have absolutely zero control over where we are born and raised, of course, so I feel I got rather lucky in this respect. Being from Texas really shapes your identity in ways you don’t even realize until you’re all grown up. I could write a book about it, but I think the thing that perhaps shaped me the most is Texas’ rugged cowboy independence. (And yes, that’s urban cowboy to me.) Texans march to the beat of their own drums. We’re fiercely protective of things we care about, we don’t mind changing when something’s not working, and we will question authority. It’s a culture that somehow mixes extreme politeness with fiery spirit and pride, and that has served me well in life. My fiery independent streak is largely due to where I come from, and I don’t take that lightly. However…

pecan pie, before baking

I’m also very thankful to live in New York. I’ve been up here over 9 years, so I can almost call myself a true New Yorker (apparently the rule is 10 years). Though I love being from Texas, after a while, at least the particular area where I came from just started to not fit me anymore. I longed for a larger city, something edgier, more diverse, and less conformist in the political and ideological sense. I’m extremely grateful that things worked out for me to move, and that I haven’t been eaten alive by this admittedly tough, unforgiving and very expensive city. I’ve made a life here. Things fit. I love the hugeness, I love the live-and-let-live aspect of New York, and I love the complete lack of uniformity. It’s *never* boring up here. New York is a fantastic city full of grit and opportunity, and I’m so proud to call it home.

Bourbon Pecan Pie

And this is largely why I named my blog what I did. I love being from Texas; though I had no say in the matter, I’m very proud to be from Texas and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. And I also love living in New York. I’m extremely glad that I took that leap of courage, moved up here, and made it work. Because it absolutely does work, so incredibly well.

bourbon pecan pie

And now I’ll discuss the reason you came, the pecan pie! I can’t ever recall a Thanksgiving this didn’t grace our table. I got this particular recipe when I married; it’s my mom’s mother’s recipe, my grandmother Rose. Unfortunately I was never able to meet her, but I am named after her. Once you taste it, you’ll find this hard to believe, but I actually didn’t like this pie as a kid. (Matt looked at me like I was an alien when I told him that – he makes sure not a holiday season goes by in our house that this pie isn’t made).

bourbon pecan pie

Not to worry, I’ve come around. I’ve done precious little to this great recipe, except to add some bourbon. It’s unbelievably delicious, with or without the liquor. Hopefully Rose wouldn’t mind my taking that one little liberty with her amazing recipe.

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the #SundaySupper team!

{One year ago: Pumpkin Pie}

Ingredients:
1 (9”) pie shell, unbaked (I used a half recipe of this superb pie dough)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
3 large eggs
1 tbs all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs melted unsalted butter
1-2 tbs bourbon*
1 – 1 ½ cups pecans

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, eggs, flour, salt, vanilla, melted butter, and bourbon.
Add the pecans to the pie shell. Pour the brown sugar mixture over top. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet.
Bake at 375 F for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 F. Bake another 40 minutes, or until set. Do not remove the pie from the oven when you lower the oven temperature.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving.
*the amount of bourbon you should add depends on when you plan to serve the pie. If you’re serving it the day you make it, add only 1 tbs bourbon. If you’re serving it the next day or later, definitely add 2 tbs bourbon. The bourbon mellows over time, so if the entire pie will be eaten day of, the bourbon flavor will be a bit too strong.

FIRST COURSE / APPETIZERS

SAVORY BREADS + STUFFING

MAIN DISHES

SIDE DISHES

DESSERTS + SWEET BREADS

All American Wine Pairing Guide for Being Thankful #SundaySupper from Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday!

We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world.

Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET.  Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.

Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.
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My Mom’s Apple Cake

My Mom's Apple Cake

As promised this morning, I’m ba-ack! It’s today’s second post, to make up for my absence yesterday, and yes, we are having more apples. This recipe is extra-special because it’s the apple cake my mom has been using for years, and she gave me the recipe when I got married.

apple cake batter

This cake is very moist and tender, filled with bites of apples and earthy, fall spices. I absolutely love it, 1) because objectively speaking, it’s a great cake that is simple to make and comes together quickly; and 2) I love it in that biased, subjective, nostalgic way we all love childhood favorites and family recipes.

apple cake, before baking

The cake itself is very easy to make, and I think it’s pretty versatile, because of all the ways you could potentially serve it. I can say with some authority that it’s delicious unadorned and just served plain. But you could dust it with some confectioners’ sugar – that would be very pretty and tasty. Or, you could ice it if you wanted, and a simple frosting would not detract from the cake’s flavors. A cinnamon cream cheese would be lovely, or a basic vanilla butter cream would work nicely, I think. I’m betting a glaze would be lovely too. Maybe something with apple cider? Or maybe apple brandy? I have not tried any of those, though I’m definitely getting some ideas for the future; but please let me know what you think if you do!

My Mom's Apple Cake

Anyways, enjoy this one, guys. It’s wonderful and so, so perfect for fall.

my mom's apple cake

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¾ tsp salt
½ cup plus 1 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup buttermilk
3 cups peeled and diced apples (3 medium)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a bundt pan very well, making sure you coat all surfaces.
Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
With the mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture. When that is combined, add all of the buttermilk, beat until just combined, then add the other half of the flour mixture; mix until just combined. Shut off the mixer.
Fold in the apples with a spatula. Spoon the batter into your prepared bundt pan (it will be thick), and then bake about 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully invert onto a cooling rack. Serve warm (with ice cream!) or cool to room temperature first.

Banana Bread

This is my mom’s recipe for banana bread.  It was one of my favorite things she made when I was a kid.  I loved the smell wafting through the house.  It was always a warm, comforting treat. Sometimes we’d eat it sliced, toasted and buttered.  Other times, just sliced warm from the oven.  And a few times, when no one was looking, I just grabbed the end chunk and ate it with my hands!

I was so thrilled that my mom gave me this recipe before I got married, even though at that time I didn’t really cook much.  It was the first baked good I made for Matt.  He loves it too. The recipe is a very classic version of banana bread, no funny business!  I don’t change the core of the recipe one bit.  It’s just so good and nostalgic.  Sometimes, if I’m in the mood, I’ll add toasted chopped walnuts, and once I also added some chopped dates.  It’s fantastic with the addition of walnuts.  I liked it with the dates, but found it not as good as the original.  I usually just make it as written and it’s amazing.

Even though I’ve very aware that there are tons of banana bread recipes out there, many of which are probably delicious, I still keep coming back again and again to this one.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? While the other recipes may offer tastiness, they cannot offer me any memories or heritage, so I always just make this one.  I think everyone has at least one recipe they feel this way about.  Mine is banana bread.  What is yours?

Ingredients:
6 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 bananas, very ripe
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Grease a standard 9×5″ loaf pan.
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter, bananas, and sugar. Add the eggs and milk and beat well.
In a separate smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk to combine. Do not overmix. Add the vanilla and lemon juice and whisk to combine.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes, then either slice and serve warm, or let cool completely.

Fried Summer Squash with a Horseradish Dipper

When it comes to eating, I was the child every expectant parent secretly prays they don’t have. To say I was picky puts it rather mildly. I really couldn’t stand eating vegetables. My parents preached nutrition until they were blue in the face, and they always served meals that included a veggie of some sort. And I didn’t really care for any of them, sometimes not even potatoes.

I put up a respectable fight on the I-will-not-eat-vegetables front. I’m not saying I won or anything, but I made quite an admirable effort to not insult my taste buds. I whined and cried. I tried to flatly and calmly refuse. I tried to politely turn them down. (“Here’s some asparagus, Julie.” “Oh, no thank you.”) I held my nose and made sure to chew with my mouth wide open, thinking that maybe they’d be so grossed out they would relent. Most often though, I cut my vegetable servings into teeny, tiny pieces and swallowed them whole with my water or iced tea. It took a while, and often I was still sitting at the dinner table a good half hour after everyone else had finished, still consuming my vegetables as though they were medicinal pills. And like swallowing medicine, I shuddered and made faces after each swallow. I must report that nothing really worked. Night after night my plate was still filled with vegetables, and my parents never let up on making sure I got my nutrients.

One veg that I hated in particular was cooked yellow summer squash. I thought it was slimy and had a weird, unpleasant flavor. That being said, I would, however, make a mighty exception when it was breaded and deep-fried. On those (not terribly frequent) occasions, I popped it into my mouth like it was Halloween candy, and begged for more when it was gone. This dish definitely stands out as one of my childhood favorites that my mom made at home.

I was recently flipping through a cookbook of family recipes she gave me when I got married, and I realized I didn’t see it in there. I hadn’t had it in years, and suddenly I was craving it. I knew I could recreate it in my own kitchen. I decided to make a dipping sauce to accompany it. Since the squash is rather sweet, I wanted the dip to have some heat. Horseradish became the star, mixed in with some mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon, and scallions. The dipper is my contribution to my mom’s classic dish. I think it worked. Mom, if you ever try it, let me know if you agree.

FRIED SUMMER SQUASH:

Ingredients:
1 large summer squash, thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup flour
3 tbs cornstarch
1 tbs sweet paprika
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
Dash of cayenne
2 eggs
Dash of hot sauce, such as TX Pete’s
Kosher salt and black pepper
Canola oil, for frying

Directions:
Combine the flour, cornstarch, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper into a pie plate. Mix to combine.
In a second pie plate, whisk the eggs with a splash of water and a dash of hot sauce. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Dip the squash rounds in the flour, then shake off the excess. Then dip them in the egg wash, letting the excess drain off. Then they go back into the flour, again shaking off the excess. Place a cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet and lay the squash on the cooling rack in a single layer. You will probably need two sheets. Continue until the squash has been battered. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to let them set up.
Pour the canola oil into your deep fryer according to manufacturer’s instructions and begin heating up.
When the oil is ready*, fry the squash in batches for about 3-4 minutes, flipping once during the cooking. They’re ready when they are nicely browned and the bubbles start subsiding. Lift them out with a slotted spoon onto paper towel lined plates to mop up any excess oil. While they are very hot, sprinkle with a dash of kosher salt. Repeat until done. Serve with the Horseradish Dipper.
* To test the readiness of your oil, simply drop in a pinch of the flour mixture you used to batter the squash. If it sinks and otherwise does nothing, your oil is too cold. If it immediately burns, your oil is too hot. What you’re looking for is for the flour to immediately begin bubbling but not immediately change color.

HORSERADISH DIPPER:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 rounded tbs prepared horseradish, drained
2 scallions, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
3 dashes of hot sauce, such as TX Pete’s
Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk thoroughly, making sure to get all the lumps out. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to marry.