Appetizers Blog Anniversaries

sikil pak (mayan pumpkin seed dip recipe) — and my ninth blogiversary!

how old??? happy ninth blogiversary! ::::


I started this blog in 2011, exactly nine years ago. I thought about making a celebratory cake for today but I used all my recent cake focus for my last post with a browned butter carrot cake with pretty candied carrot roses — hard to beat that. How far I’ve come with trips to Japan and Taiwan, lovely cakes, colorful and cute cookies, and lots of potatoes. I’ve curated great recipes for slurp-worthy pho, a quick beer bread, crunchy do chua, comforting Taiwanese chicken ginger sesame stew, satisfying spinach gomaae, some really fabulous ice cream,  lots of new things that I wouldn’t have normally tried to make (hello, fresh tofu!), and dabble in telling stories surrounding the food.



Those stories. This blog was the first place I started that practice in a public place, with the intent to craft a years-long letter to my children couched in recipes and eating. While my blog posting has tapered off to about once a month from twice a week (!), my love of writing has grown more behind the scenes. This blog is my playground and loosely formed usually (except the obligatory birthday posts), which has been great fun.

I’ve been able to spend less time here as I’m working on publishing writing in other places (and, well, my career as a physician is kinda sorta priority to pay the bills). So far, the writing is all small potatoes, really. (Note: I LOVE POTATOES.) I’ve spent the past two years avidly reading all sorts of books and started some prose writing classes (something I never did in college) to explore the craft of writing. Not that the blog isn’t great, but it can limiting. (Example: Talking about doctory gross stuff and death isn’t my theme on a food blog.)



Why limit myself to a cake to celebrate the blog? Let’s do a dip: I’m dipping myself into new adventures this year. I first tried this dip pictured above with a colleague friend and his wife when we were at a conference in Chicago last year. We often gravitate to Frontera Grill for food when conferencing there. The ambience is always cozy and company conversational. I’d be hard pressed to have a quick meal at Frontera as many times as I’ve been there over the years. It’s really that good with the people I’ve spent time with there.

Enter the sikil pa’k, a pumpkin seed dip originating from Mayan cuisine. The name means “calabaza seed” and “tomato.” The Mayans were a hunter-gatherer people and migrated to the Yucatán thousands of years ago. This recipe doesn’t use exactly what the original uses but adapted for our ingredient availability. For example, the pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) used here are from orange pumpkins not the calabaza squash (tropical pumpkin). Lime juice is also used over sour orange, as sour orange is hard to find where I am. A Vitamix blender is essential here too if you want a smooth dip.

Here’s to another year on the blog, exploring new things on it and behind the scenes!


One year ago: woven yeast bread

Two years ago: blood orange pâte de fruit

Three years ago: I wrote a post about taking a break and hired Mui Tsun to redesign the site.

Four years ago — This is one of my most memorable posts — still trying to figure out my next creation: I wore a dress made from fresh brassica and allium greens, a necklace of grapes, and rosemary in my hair. 

Five years ago: pandan chiffon cake

Six years ago: polenta chips with rosemary and parmesan

Seven years ago: mulled cider with homemade spice sachet

Eight years ago: cannellini bean, ricotta, chocolate torte

Nine years ago: the very first post! – debutante cake


sikil pak (mayan pumpkin seed dip recipe)
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mayan or Yucatecan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 small white onion, peeled. Bayless recommend slicing into rounds, but chopping is fine.
  • 1¾ cups (approx 8 ounces) pepitas, toasted and salted. (I bought raw and toasted my own and added salt. Other recipes recommend not using salted pepitas.)
  • ⅓ of a 15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained - I found this was a little hard to estimate and ended up using more of juice to thin the dip.
  • ⅓ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • ⅓ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 heaping tablespoons tahini (or pulverized, toasted sesame seeds)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons habanero hot sauce (or a little chopped fresh habanero chile)
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
  • Salt
  1. In a large skillet, soften and brown the onions, about 10 minutes. Bayless doesn't use oil in a non-stick pan to do this. I used a tiny bit of neutral oil to brown.
  2. Cool to room temperature, roughly chop them (if in rounds) and scoop into a blender or food processor. I think the Vitamix is better than a food processor to give a smoother dip.
  3. Add the pepita, tomatoes, citrus juices, tahini/sesame seeds, and hot sauce (or chile). Process until completely smooth.
  4. Stir in the cilantro, then taste and season with salt.
  5. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with raw jicama, cucumber slices, and tortilla chips. I especially like the cucumber slices.
I first had this with a bowl of guacamole cuddled nearby. Dipping the two together with cucumbers or tortilla chips is fabulous.



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