Holy Guacamole!

Prom is over, Graduations have started, people are taking vacations and kids are finishing up school for the year which can only mean one thing, summer is here!

The best part of summer other than being outdoors and enjoying the sun is getting to cook just about anything you want with the availability of wonderful produce. Most folks prefer to eat lighter in the summer due to the heat. There are so many things you can do in terms of a light meal during the next few months that will keep you happy. I have been spending the little bit of free time I have after work cultivating recipes that would be great to enjoy this summer.

The most important thing about summer especially if your outdoors being active is to stay hydrated. This Agua Fresca or fruit water that a friend of mine gave me is an excellent thirst quencher. If your looking for something cold that isn’t heavy like ice cream frozen Greek yogurt cake pops are one of my favorites. My most recent and seasonal Rhubarb Sorbet is easy to make and a great way to rejuvenate from a long day being in the sun.

One of my favorite fruits this time of year is avocados. While they aren’t very arousing to eat plain they are the key ingredient for guacamole. Who doesn’t enjoy a great guacamole? I’m very picky when it comes to this dip. It has to have the perfect balance between acidity and seasoning. If it doesn’t have enough lime juice I ask for more, not enough cumin I add more, etc. Brandon has always been a master at making guacamole and I asked him to show me step by step on how to go about making this properly. His method is a little bit longer than most but the finished product is astonishing. If you follow this recipe and make it according to my ingredients, your welcome.

I love using Xochitl blue corn tortilla chips for this recipe. They are gluten free and kosher. The no salt added are my favorite!

Ingredients for a quality Guacamole:

-4 Each Avocados

-1 Each 5×6 Tomato, small dice

-1 Each Garlic clove, minced

-1 Each shallot (or red onion), minced

-3 Each Limes

-Zest from 1 Lemon (No juice)

-3 Tablespoons Cumin

-TT Salt

-1 Teaspoon Black pepper

–  Teaspoon Red pepper flakes

-1/2 Bunch Cilantro, chopped

Method of Prep:

-Begin by mincing your aromatics (garlic and shallots).

-Place in a bowl and using the back of a spoon grind against sides of the bowl as if you were using a mortar and pestle. Add about a tablespoon of salt to help with the mashing.

–Next, slice all of the avocados and using a spoon, scoop them from their skin into the bowl of aromatics.

-Using a whisk, start mashing up avocado. It’s okay to leave some chunks.

-Add the diced tomato, season with a little salt and fold into the avocado mix.

-Zest the lemon and one of the limes into the dip.

-Slice limes and squeeze as much juice out of them possible into the guacamole and stir.

-Shake a thin layer of cumin over the top and add 2 pinches of pepper flakes, and black pepper, mix.

-Taste and add more cumin if needed. You will taste a lot of acidity from the lime juice making if harder to nail the flavor of cumin. Just keep adding a little bit at a time until you feel its enough. It took me 3 layers to get it right.

-Finish with folding in the cilantro.

Enjoy!

Banana Pudding

I’m certain that if you were to ask a room full of people if they’ve eaten banana pudding before, they would answer yes. Bananas are an enjoyable fruit, one of my favorite breakfast snacks and a common flavor addition for many goodies such as popsicles, bread, and candy. For the people that don’t like bananas, you need to check yourself.

Banana pudding is a simple snack to make, It requires no effort and is a great alternative to cake or ice cream for an after dinner treat. Kids will most likely enjoy banana pudding, plus its served cold so you can enjoy it outdoors this summer. This recipe really doesn’t need a post but it’s quite good, I just couldn’t resist, You will thank me later.

For my recipe I used banana flavored pudding, you can substitute vanilla or even chocolate if you wanted to.

You will need:

-1 Package of banana pudding mix

-2 Cups Milk

-3 Each Bananas, peeled and sliced

-1 Box vanilla wafers

-Whipped cream (see recipe below, or use store bought)

Whipped cream:

-1 8oz carton Heavy cream

-1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

-1 Teaspoon Almond extract (optional)

-4 Tablespoons Powder sugar (optional. I didn’t use sugar this time, pudding mix is sweet enough you won’t be able to tell the whipped cream isn’t sweetened.)

Method of Prep:

-In a medium bowl, add pudding mix and whisk in milk according to directions on box. Let sit for 5 minutes until ready.

-While waiting, combine in bowl of a stand mixer components to make whipped cream. Add in all ingredients and using the whisk attachment on medium high speed, whip until stiff medium peaks show. Approximately 5 minutes.

-In a bowl that you plan to serve the pudding in, begin by adding a small amount of pudding to cover the bottom. Top with a handful of bananas, and vanilla wafer crumbles.

-For the next layer, spread whipped cream just enough to cover pudding. top with vanilla wafers and more cookie crumbles.

-Repeat those two steps until you run out of pudding. The last layer should be the pudding. Garnish with bananas and wafer crumbles.

Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Avacado & House vinaigrette

I’ve noticed lately that many people are starting to divert from processed foods. I think its a fantastic idea and I’m all for it. The only problem is being able to afford to make from scratch meals that can be eaten quickly before going to waste and finding the time to generate new recipes that are healthy, inexpensive to prepare, and not time consuming.

I’ve been getting better as far as shopping goes. I gave up drinking soda back in the 7th grade due to some kid telling me “It eats at your bones.” Needless to say soda scared me. Ive been working in restaurants for over 5 years  now and many of the places I’ve worked at had a lot of in house ingredients meaning most of the sauces, dressings, desserts, etc were all made from scratch in that kitchen, it didn’t come pre-made in cans, bottles, or boxes. Over the years I’ve always had the satisfaction of  making meals from scratch, to me it’s better quality. When I go shopping I always avoid the frozen foods section, chip aisle, and cookie/crackers area. I have no use for anything in those aisles nor does my body need any of that junk. I’ve always had fruits and vegetables in my diet but since I haven’t been buying processed foods I’ve doubled the amount I used to purchase and have been including more beans, grains, and anything else I can find that is healthy enough and considered not processed to make my body happier. This is a tough battle trying to rid some of these old habits from my diet. It’s taking baby steps day by day that will eventually get me to where I want to be in my new diet.

This is a simple recipe I put together today. I had this for dinner and it was excellent. I included my house vinaigrette that is basically an Italian dressing. This would also make a great side dish for a picnic or cookout. You can also serve this hot with a pasta sauce of your choice.

Ingredients:

-1/2 Yellow onion, small dice

-1 Green bell pepper, small dice

-2 Carrots, peeled, small dice

-1 Avocado, skin removed, small dice

-1/2 Box Whole wheat penne (or pasta of your choice)

House Dressing Ingredients:

-2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

-1 Tablespoon Honey

-1 Tablespoon dry Oregano

-1 Tablespoon Onion powder

-1/2 Cup Red wine vinegar

-1 Cup Extra virgin olive oil

Method of prep:

-Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add in pasta, stir and cover. Takes about 13 minutes to cook.

-While pasta is cooking, prepare all vegetables except for the avocado and mix together in a bowl.

-Drain pasta and let cool.

-Mix pasta in with the vegetables and avocado then slowly add dressing a little at a time until desired consistency. (You wont need all the dressing.) Stir until combined. Add avocado last to keep from discoloring.

Enjoy!

House Vinaigrette:

-In a large bowl add Dijon, honey, oregano, red wine vinegar and onion powder.

-Using a hand blender, begin to mix everything.

-Slowly pour in EVOO until dressing begins to emulsify to a nappe consistency (or coats the back of a spoon).

 

Rhubarb Sorbet

This next Monday is Memorial day if you’ve forgotten, with that being the kick off to summer everyone is sure to start looking for lighter and cooler summer treats. Summer in Florida is slow for work meaning I will have plenty of time to keep preparing recipes and working on new flavor combinations for easy and enjoyable summer entertainment.

In the meantime I’m making use of late spring fruits such as Rhubarb, cherries, mango’s, and strawberries. This is my first time using Rhubarb and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I just did a strawberry jam recently so that idea was out. I’m trying to avert from making pies and cakes because between Brandon and I we don’t eat enough sweets and it would just go to waste. I did some research and after a little planning decided to make a sorbet. It’s an effortless project and the results are sure to make you happy. The weather down here has been getting hotter by the minute and my friends and family up north  say its starting to get hot as well. Nothing goes better with the heat than the delightful smooth texture of a frozen treat. Did I mention this is a healthier alternative to ice cream? I love ice cream myself but sometimes depending on the area your in, heat and dairy don’t mix. The only downfall to this recipe is you have to have an ice cream maker to make the sorbet. If you don’t have one you can look up other options on how to make a sorbet minus the machine. Or you can make popsicles, another great way to cool off!

<<—Rhubarb

Ingredients:

-1 Cup granulated sugar

-1 Cup water

-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

-1 Pound fresh Rhubarb (or frozen) cut into 1 inch pieces

-2 Tablespoons light corn syrup

Method of Prep:

-Combine lemon juice, sugar and water in a pot over low heat and stir until sugar dissolves.

-Bring to a boil, add in Rhubarb, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

<<–Let Rhubarb simmer, don’t boil it!

-In a food processor or blender puree mixture then stir in corn syrup.

-Set in refrigerator and let cool down.

-Add into ice cream machine and churn according to directions, about 20 minutes.

-place in a plastic container and place in freezer for 4 hours before serving.

Enjoy!

<<—Delicious!

“Lyonnaise” home-fries

Good morning and happy Friday to all my readers! Usually I’m at work during this time however today I get to go in later.  Mornings fly by so fast and I’m for the most part busy with taking care of chores around the house so I don’t have too much time to spend on breakfast. Trying to put together any type of meal around my apartment is hard due to the fact that my pantry is about empty. Usually for breakfast, if I have time to eat I have granola, fruit, eggs, and a yogurt. Today I wanted to try and use up some red skinned potatoes I had resting on the counter. I thought home fries would be a wonderful way to use them not to mention its not a time consuming project and you need only a few simple ingredients. Brandon showed me a quick way on how to put a delicious twist on breakfast potatoes.  He calls this Lyonnaise home fries.

Lyonnaise means “from Lyon” after the city in France. Lyonnaise potatoes is a french dish of sliced pan fried potatoes, thinly sliced onions, garlic and butter. Sometimes the addition of herbs are included. This dish is typically in the form of a gratin but for this recipe we cooked ours the way you would for breakfast potatoes just using the ingredients of lyonnaise. The secret to french cooking is butter, butter, and more butter. Therefore this isn’t the healthiest dish, if you are on a diet you don’t have to use as much butter or can substitute oil, take in mind that results may vary. I prefer to do mine in a cast iron skillet because of the high heat it gives the onions, garlic, and potatoes the nice carmelization your looking for plus you can put the pan straight into the oven without having to switch it into another baking dish. We added hot sauce to this because it gives a great flavor and nice little kick. You can substitute dry spices or other seasoning if desired. Lastly, seasoning the potatoes is tough. Your going to think your using a lot of salt but really you aren’t. You need to keep adding salt throughout the cooking and keep tasting because its takes a while to finally get the appropriate taste.

Lyonnaise Potatoes Ingredients:

-10 each small red skinned potatoes, cut into small cubes

-1/2 stick Butter

-4 each Cloves garlic, shaved thin

-1 each Yellow onion, julienne thin

-Franks red hot sauce, TT

-Salt, TT

Method of Prep:

-Heat cast Iron skillet (or fry pan) on medium. Add in 1 table spoon of butter, let melt.

-Add in potatoes, season with salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

-Heat oven to 425.

-Add in 1 more tablespoon of butter, mix until melted.

-Add onions, stir. Add garlic, stir.

-Add in another tablespoon of butter, stir.

-Cook until everything has a nice caramelized look. Keep adding butter to the mix to help deglaze the bottom of pan. Continue seasoning.

-Add in a few dashes of Franks and stir.

-Place in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until potatoes are ready.

-Enjoy!