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!

Baked Baby Eggplant Caprese

On Sunday when Mom came to dinner, she brought me three perfect, lavender baby eggplants from the Farmer’s Market.  I wish I’d thought to take a “before” picture.

I thought of what I had on hand – fresh Michigan tomatoes,  fragrant basil from my herb garden, tart goat cheese and toasted breadcrumbs made from my homemade croutons and came up with this recipe last night.

They were….phenomenal.  And I’m going to share how I did it in case you’d like to make these little melt-in-your-mouth bites of goodness. They would be great for appetizers, side dishes or a meatless entree.

Baked Baby Eggplant Caprese

  • three baby eggplants
  • 1 c fresh chopped tomato
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • sea salt
  • garlic powder
  • olive oil
  • 1/2-3/4 c goat cheese
  • breadcrumbs

Trim the tops and bottoms off each eggplant then slice them in half. Place the eggplant halves on paper towels, flesh side up and salt them. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. After 15 minutes, blot the eggplant and drizzle olive oil over the cut side lightly coating the surface. Place them flesh side down on a grill pan (I used my cast iron one) and roast them for 15 minutes.  Chop the tomatoes, add sea salt and garlic powder to taste, chiffonade then stir in the basil and set aside. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the eggplant over (skin side down), top them with chunks of goat cheese, chopped tomatoes mixture, then a sprinkle of the crunchy breadcrumbs and place them back into the oven. Turn the oven off and remove them after 3-5 minutes until the goat cheese is warmed and softened.

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Wedge Salad with Easy Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

The other night I threw a small dinner party. As I was putting together the menu, I thought – how about Wedge Salads?  I’ve never made them, but love the crunchy, freshness of the lettuce with all the toppings – plus I’m a bit obsessed with blue cheese. If I may say so, this was a huge hit with my guests!  You can certainly use a chunky blue cheese dressing from the store but this simple recipe takes less than 5 minutes to make and it’s worth the effort.  For the Wedge Salad, I’ll tell you how I top it and you can decide how many you’re making at a time.

Easy Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 3/4 c chunky blue cheese
  • 1/2 t red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 t lemon juice
  • sea salt & coarse ground cracked black pepper to taste

Place together in a bowl and stir together until mixed.  It’s ready to serve and will be even better in 24 hours.

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Wedge Salad

  • Iceberg lettuce – cut into wedges (I can get six wedges from a head of iceberg lettuce – remove the core)
  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped crispy bacon (I sprinkle pepper on my bacon before cooking it)
  • chopped fresh chives
  • blue cheese dressing
  • blue cheese crumbles to top

When I served this the other night, I neglected to take a picture.  I placed six wedges on a vibrant green platter and then topped them. It was gorgeous and a showy way to present a Wedge Salad for a dinner party. Tonight, I made up two for Spence and I.  Here’s what my wedge looks like.

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Five Bean Salad, my way

Five Bean Salad
Five Bean Salad, my way

I LOVE FIVE BEAN SALAD.  So great to take to a potluck or picnic (no mayo), it’s a favorite of ours to have as our salad or veggie side with any number of meals year round. It makes a lot and only gets better each subsequent day.  It keeps for up to two weeks in the fridge but never  lasts that long!  I use my mom’s recipe but tweak it in my own way to give it a bit more pizazz!

Five Bean Salad, my way

serves 15                      Weight Watchers Smart Points 7

1 can garbanzo beans (or chickpeas as they’re also known)
1 can great northern or navy beans
1 can cut green beans
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can wax beans
2 large shallots finely minced or red onion finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
4-5 finely chopped peppadew peppers (these come in a jar) or substitute 1 tablespoon chopped pimento
1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeños (first removing ribs and seeds) or green pepper if you can’t take the heat.

Drain and rinse beans and put into a large serving bowl. Add the shallots, peppadew peppers and jalapeño, stir taking care not to break the beans.

Marinade:

3/4 c red wine or champagne vinegar
3/4 c vegetable oil (canola or olive oil)
1/2 c sugar
1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
sprinkle of red pepper flakes

Mix this together well – making sure that the sugar has “melted” into the marinade. Pour over the beans and stir together. Refrigerate. Stir every 30-60 minutes to further distribute the marinade. This is best made at least 8 hours prior to serving.