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Monday, August 25, 2008

Tasty Spicy Guacamole

There are a gazillion guacamole recipes out there, a gazillion! If you take a look around you'll see the same basic ingredients of avocado, lime, onion and salt. Those ingredients will produce a basic guacamole, probably a little bland, but still guacamole.

From there the options are endless, further typical ingredients are usually hot peppers, tomato, garlic, a hot sauce or even a seasoning like cumin and maybe cilantro (although I never use this because I despise cilantro!) Oh, and don't forget one of my favorite secret ingredients - bacon!

So what constitutes a great guacamole? Personal preference and flavor profile. Seriously, it's all up the the individual consumer. Some like more heat, some like more lime flavor and some prefer a highly seasoned guac'. For me I have a base recipe that will change depending on what I have available. If I don't have a jalapeno pepper on hand, I might go for a poblano or a Serrano chili. And it will depend on the avocado- if it's a little flavorless I'll find myself adding in some chopped parsley, fresh oregano or chili powder.

Below is just one version of guacamole - nothing outrageous, but the addition of the sriracha sauce gives it just a little flavor variation. I would add a slice of crispy bacon if I had some available.

Try this once, then the next time add, subtract or modify based on your preference. Remember- nothing is wrong; and it isn't going to hurt anyone to have a gazillion and one guacamole recipes! I suggest keeping notes if you make any changes so you remember the next time what you did and how it faired (I have a tendency to forget if I don't write it down!)

And I don't think I need to tell you to use guac on more than just chips - put it on sandwiches or mix it into pasta salads for a fun picnic option!  No matter what, start with an avocado and and build from there.  Consider it a fat and happy adventure.

Tips and Techniques:  Remember to be careful with the jalapeno - wear gloves or use a little syran wrap to keep from touch the pepper. The heat that gets on your hands will transfer to whatever body part you touch...eyes, and private parts being the most painful...I've seen people in much pain over this! Really!

Spicy Guacamole
1 Avocado (use 2 if they are small or you like more avocado to guac ratio)
1 small red onion finely chopped (roughly 1/4 - 1/2 cup)
2-3 cloves finely chopped garlic cloves
1 finely chopped jalapeƱo (I use the whole jalapeno, seeds and all)
1 small lime, juiced
1 small tomato diced (roughly 1/2 cup)
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
couple of squirts of sriracha hot sauce (or substitute Tabasco)- (roughly 1-2 tsp)
1-2 tsp sesame chili oil (adds a little sesame-heat!)

Mash your avocado with a fork, leaving some chunks; add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Serve immediately. I've kept Guac overnight (set the large pit in your guac to help it keep better- but it is really best the day you make it. And it's so quick there's really no reason not to.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Turkey Tortilla Pie

Days are escaping me. Work is hectic with travel and classes cutting into my cooking time! Even my volleyball time as suffered this summer- that's unprecedented! I find that most meals are coming from quick sandwich shops, left overs from the freezer or in those worst case scenarios....a bag of chips followed by a bowl of ice cream. Somehow I managed to pull together this tortilla casserole using some random leftovers (I'm not even sure where the left overs came from?! Nachos maybe??)

You could vary this dish by using more eggs and less meat- turning it into more of a quiche-strata breakfast! Or leave the eggs out for a hearty pie. Serve this with a dollop of sour cream and a margarita or a side of guacamole and a lime beer. Again this is just a made up thing, so add whatever you have in the house, change it to your liking and be fat and happy!

Turkey Tortilla Pie
Lightly spray a round glass baking dish with Pam - line the dish with tortillas. I used whole wheat tortillas, and simply cut them up to cover all the spaces of the dish.

Turkey mixture:

In a pan, sautee in olive oil for about 3 minutes:
1/2 diced Onion
4 celery stalks, diced

add, continue to sautee just to get everything mixed together:
1 tlbs chili powder
1/2 tbls cumin
1/2 tbls paprika
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper (add more for spicier dish)
2 cloves chopped garlic

Now add, and sauteee until meat is cooked:
1/2 lb ground turkey meat (I used turkey to keep the fat content down, feel free to substitute hamburger, sausage or chorizo)

salt and pepper to taste
1/2 can black beans (drained)
1/2 can of chili beans (save the liquid to add to the eggs)

pour meat mixture into the tortilla lined casserole.
top with a layer of salsa(again, use hot or mild to your liking) and shredded cheese (whatever you have will work great - I used cheddar and chihuahua)
top with tortilla chips (don't just lay the tortillas flat, push them into the meat allowing to stick upright)

whisk together and pour egg mixture on top:
6 egg white 1 yolk (I used mainly whites to keep this slightly lower in fat!)
minced sauteed shallot, 1 section (like 2 tbls)
minced sauteed onions, about 2 tbls
chili bean liquid reserves (optional)

top with sprinkling of paprika and shredded cheese, (whatever you have will work great - I used cheddar and chihuahua) bake until set in the middle. Depending on your oven, this could take up to an hour. Let the casserole-pie set for about 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Classic Sangria

It was on my first trip to Chicago with Dave some years ago that I really discovered Sangria. I'm convinced this was the start of my addiction because I still remember it so vividly! I can picture the night, the shape of the bar, the other patrons...and then the memory just gets dreamy! This tall gorgeous red sangria was set in front of me and everything becomes brighter and more colorful and in the movie 'What Dreams May Come' (okay the movie itself may not have been great...) but the art direction and the colors when Robin Williams is in heaven and he picks a flower which just melts into colors in his hand... call it love, call it the booze - that's the sangria I remember!

How to recreate this though? I've come to realize I will never be able to recreate this - nor do I think I want to. It's just time to make my own version. You're going to enjoy this sangria for fruity and slightly fizziness of it. I used whatever fruit I had on, so do the same. Drop in some apple chunks and or try watermelon. Sangria to me is just another reason to love wine and to have fun with it! Mix, drink and create lasting lively memories to be fat and happy with.

Tips and Techniques:  A basic red table wine works great for sangria rather than using your expensive wines.  Make this ahead of time if you can to allow the flavors to meld.

Classic Sangria

1 lemon, juiced (slice up the rinds and add for flavor and color)
1 lime, juiced (slice up the rinds and add for flavor and color)
1 orange, juiced (slice up the rinds and add for flavor and color)
1 orange, sliced in thin rounds
1 can pineapple
2 shots gin
1 1/2 bottles of red wine

Add all the above ingredients to a large pitcher.  If you need the sangria immediately - mix in the remaining ingredients below and serve.   If you have time to let this steep, do. An hour up to 24 hours works great. Add in the rest of the ingredients just before serving:

1 cup frozen strawberries
2 cups ginger ale (more or less depending on you interest in the bubbles)

Add fresh fruit chunks (cherries, apples, oranges, pears, berries, etc)
Serve in a tall pretty glass.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cherry Chocolate Port Sauce

It's no secret I've been making alot of ice cream this summer. What I haven't posted yet is the sauces that go on the ice cream! I'm doing a chocolate sauce first, since that's Dave's favorite.

Port is one of these 'acquired taste' things; and we have acquired this taste! We also quickly learned how much better the 20 age ports can be...not to mention expensive! So we stick with a nice 10 year. Our preference is the Taylor Fladgate brand so far but I'm open for suggestions! Port is great in steak sauces, dessert sauced and just by itsel. The addition of port, cherries and pomegranate gives this sauce great depth beyond just melted chocolate. (You can omit the pomegranate juice if you prefer or if you just don't have it handy. ) Always keep in mind, I'm not precise in my measurements, so feel free to add a little more or less as you see fit!

This sauce whips up in minutes and it super fantastic on the Mascarpone Custard -this is a heartier ice cream and it stands up to this sauce. I also enjoyed sipping on a small glass of port with this, but a strong cup of coffee or an espresso would be equally as nice. If you haven't delved into the world of Port's before, pick up a bottle and experiment. You'll be pleasantly surprised with all the uses...along with being fat and happy!

Cherry Chocolate Port Sauce

Add ingredients to a sauce pan and bring to a boil:

1 cup pitted chopped cherries (don't chop too fine, I left mine nearly in half, unless you prefer finer cherry chunks)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup Pomegranate juice
1/2 cup port

Reduce heat, stir until the sugar is melted and the sauce is coming together (about 6 minutes). It should be getting thick.
Now add:
1/2 - 1 cup chocolate (chips, or squares)

Continue to stir the sauce so the chocolate does not burn while it's melting. Serve immediately

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tilapia in a White Cream Sauce

As much as I love hearty, long cooking, winter dishes, they just don't work in the summer. Those type of dishes are too heavy and are too much for summer. So cooking needs to lighten up, but can still have good flavor with just a hint of those hearty dishes.

I had picked up fresh zucchini and squash at the farmers market and wanted to do something with fish. The addition of cream to this helps give this dish that hearty, home cooked winter dish feel while still being light and summer-esque. One final note, I happened to have blue cheese filled olives and they really gave this dish a little fun zing! So, you can use which ever olives you have - but if you happened to be at the store looking to buy some, try the blue cheese option! They come in handy in a lot of ways. Try this fun light fish dish for a little heartier feel- you'll be fat and happy!

2 Tbls Olive oil (if you have lemon olive oil, use that)
3 Cloves Chopped Garlic

Add and sautee for a minute:
1 small sliced zucchini
1 small sliced yellow squash

Add 3 Tilapia filets and sautee for about two minutes.

Add 2 cups white wine
2 Tbls fresh basil (torn)
1 Tbls fresh oregano
1 Tbls fresh mint (torn)

cook for few minutes.
Add 1/2 cup cream, let simmer for another minute or two.

Stir in 1/2 tbls of butter
fresh ground pepper
slice green olives (I happened to have green olive filled with blue cheese, and the tiny hint of blue cheese was fabulous!)

Top with toasted pine nuts and a little lemon to serve.


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