Chunky Guacamole

Guacamole is one of my favorite foods and I’ve enjoyed it countless times – both at restaurants and my own. Yesterday realizing that I had everything I needed to make up a batch, I made (possibly the best) chunky guacamole I’ve ever had. Seriously, it was so good that I wrote down EXACTLY what I’d done with the hopes of capturing the magic in the future.

Chunky Guacamole

  • 3 ripe avocados 
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 1 large or 2 small jalapeños
  • 1 large or 2 medium/small garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 shallot
  • 1-1 1/2 T chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3-4 t sea salt

Halve avocados, remove pits setting them aside for later, scoop each avocado half into a large bowl. Halve the tomatoes, seed and then coarsely chop them – place into a second bowl. To that bowl add the jalapeño first removing the seeds and ribs and finely chopping. Mince the garlic and add to the second bowl with the shallot after dicing it.  Add the sea salt to the second bowl and toss the mixture together.  Add second bowl to the avocados, followed by the lemon juice and half the lime juice. Used a hand chopper, do a coarse chop over all ingredients and stir to blend. Chop again until it’s the chunkiness you desire.  Add chopped cilantro, stir to blend.  

Now for the tip:  In the bowl which you are using to serve or store, push the avocado pits into the guacamole. Drizzle the last of the lime juice over the top and press plastic wrap over the guacamole, touching it to the surface rather than the bowl.  Remove the pits just before serving. These steps keep the guacamole from turning brown, I deliberately waited 24 hours to take the photos and it’s still a vibrant green.   

A perfect light meal of Chunky Guacamole, warm corn tortilla chips and a hearty red wine. Living the dream!

Baking Bread

I have often said that I could live on bread, cheese and wine (if need be). I’ve been hesitant about baking bread, in particular because I’ve had little experience with yeast.

During the bitter cold, windy and icy winter days, I spent time on Pinterest and discovered several recipes that looked interesting. Today I gathered all the ingredients and decided to go for it. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? If it’s inedible, I can throw it out…..

Using this recipe, https://bakerbettie.com/easy-no-knead-skillet-bread/ I added garlic powder and poppy seeds to the top just before baking. The rosemary called for in the recipe was easy as I grow and dry it at the end of each summer. While Bettie’s recipe used a round cast iron skillet, mine is square and I went in the direction of a foccacia. The whole house was filled with the aroma of baking bread – reward enough for my effort.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

As mentioned in an earlier post, I deliberately make extra stuffing at Thanksgiving, follow this link for my recipe.

While at the market yesterday I saw this pretty little acorn squash and thought…”hmm, this would be delicious filled with my leftover, unbaked stuffing”. I was right – here’s how I did it:

Stuffed Acorn Squash  serves 2

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Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the squash in half and scoop out seeds.

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Brush the edges of the squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, place face down into a baking dish for  30 minutes.

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I used a bowl to tightly pack 1 1/2 cups unbaked stuffing per half squash. Remove the squash from the oven, flip it, scoop  packed stuffing into the cavity  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until squash is softened.

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Add a glass of red wine, enjoy every bite.

 

Stuffin’ Muffins – a kitchen hack

Thanksgiving is hands-down my most anticipated meal of the year.  My Roasted Chesnut Apple & Sausage Stuffing is hands down, my favorite part of the meal and I purposely make more than I’ll need.  It freezes beautifully and this year I remembered a kitchen hack from Rachael Ray from early in her 30 Minute Meals days – Stuffin Muffins.

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, pack the cups with unbaked stuffing and freeze for three hours.  Take them out of the muffin tin and place in a single layer into a large freezer Ziploc bag.  When you need a single-serving and savory side dish with chicken, turkey or pork simply pop out one or more and bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes until they’re crunchy on top.

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Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

I’ve made versions of this salad over time, always with broccoli.  Today knowing that I had both broccoli and cauliflower on hand, I decided to do a twist on my go-to recipe and share it with you.

Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

  • 2 c broccoli florets
  • 1 1/2 – 2 c cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries – add to 1/2 c very hot water for 1o minutes, drain
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar, cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 c chopped red onion
  • 1/2 c pecans – chopped and lightly toasted
  • 4-5 slices crisp bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 t coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 t dijon mustard
  • red pepper flake to taste (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, cauliflower, cranberries, cheddar and red onion.  Make the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, honey, vinegar, pepper, dijon and red pepper flakes.  Dress the salad with the desired amount of dressing – you can always add more.  Add the bacon and pecans, stir to blend. Chill for one hour and serve.

Pork Fried Rice

Let me start by saying, I love fried rice and I love to cook.  That said, I’ve never made fried rice…until last night – with great success. I even dreamt about it. I had leftover baby back ribs from Sunday’s dinner which inspired me to do Pork Fried Rice.  If you want, this recipe would be equally delicious with shrimp, chicken or amp up the veggies and make it a veggie fried rice as well.

Pork Fried Rice   serves 3-4

  • 2 c uncooked white rice
  • 2 eggs – beaten with a fork
  • 1 1/2 – 2 c cooked, chopped pork
  • 3/4 c diced white onion
  • 1/2 c diced carrot
  • 1/3 c diced peppers
  • 1 c frozen peas – thawed
  • sesame & peanut oil
  • liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • 1/4 c Rice Wine vinegar

Start by cooking your rice (using a little less water than called for), early in the day or the night before.  Spread it out and cool it on a sheet pan, allowing it to dry out a bit.

Compile your ingredients and heat your wok to medium high heat, add a teaspoon of sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of peanut oil.

Add the eggs to the pan, allow them to start cooking then break up with your spatula into soft scramble egg bites.  Remove from the wok and set aside.

Add the same amount of oils to the wok as for the eggs then add the carrots allowing them to cook for several minutes.  Now add the onions and peppers, cook for a few minutes more, then remove them from the wok and set aside.

Add the same amount of oils as in previous steps, then add the pork allowing it to crisp up a bit.  Remove from the wok and set aside.

Add 2 T sesame oil and 2 T peanut oil to the wok, add the rice spreading it out to cover as much of the wok surface as possible.  Let it brown for a couple of minutes, then move it around allowing it to continue to brown, repeating this step until it’s nicely golden. Stir in the Rice Wine vinegar and the liquid amigos/soy sauce to taste.  Add the veggies and pork into the rice, stir to combine. Now add the peas, then the scrambled egg, stir to combine and it’s ready to serve!

 

My Famous Cran-Orange Relish, just in time for Thanksgiving

 Cran-Orange Relish
Cran-Orange Relish

  • 2 12 oz bags of fresh cranberries
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 1 T raspberry or strawberry jam
  • 2-3 T sugar
  • 1 t balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 T Grand Marnier liqueur

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Assembly Line

I use a dutch oven pan to create more surface area for warming the berries. Place cranberries, sugar, jam and vinegar in the pan on a low to medium setting, stir. Zest one navel orange and then juice that orange, adding both juice and zest to berry mixture. Stir again

Using a veggie peeler or small sharp knife, remove about 1/2 the peel from the second orange, careful not to go beneath the “orange” peel (avoiding the bitter white part). Chop the peel fine (see below) until you have 1 tablespoon. You may use more peel if you end up with more or freeze it for later use.

Add peel to berry mixture. Cut the second orange in half and then section it, adding the sections to the berry mixture. Squeeze any residual juice from the second orange into the pan.

Looks pretty, smells tart and citrusy
Looks pretty, smells tart and citrusy

You will start to hear little pops from the pan, those are the cranberries bursting. Give it a stir, put a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to low. Check back every 15 -20 minutes for another stir, letting it simmer.. After 45 minutes, stir in the Grand Marnier, the berry mixture should be breaking down like a chutney. Continue to cook for 15-20 minutes more. Cool and serve. Makes 2-3 cups of relish. This can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to two weeks and freezes beautifully, simply thaw and serve.

This is delicious as to serve not only with your Thanksgiving dinner but with chicken, pork or even seared scallops (trust me). For a festive appetizer, make a charcuterie platter  with cheeses like brie or a spreadable goat cheese or camembert, manchego, sharp white cheddar, cornichons and marcona almonds with sliced baguettes! Get creative…..and always, enjoy!

Looking for other Thanksgiving or Holiday recipes? Here’s links to a few of my best recipes:

Chestnut, Apple and Sausage Stuffing

Roasting Chestnuts – a Labor of Love

As I’m making my 2016 batch today, I decided to re-publish this recipe in hopes that it might be helpful to someone this Thanksgiving!