Life’s Better w/ A Little Guac

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As a person that believes everything is better with a little guac, it’s no surprise I was ecstatic when I found out Friday that it was National Guacamole Day {my new favorite holiday}! I realized I might have gotten a wee bit crazy on the Facebook post of guac recipes and “Happy National Guacamole Day” when my friends started posting…”What is with this guacamole obsession?? It’s like a death grip!” Feeling like I’m not the only one that feels this way; I tied on my apron and hit the kitchen for one of my favorite quick meals. Guacamole BLT’s…because everything is better with a little guac!

This recipe is {ML} + {DF} + {<3} friendly

SHOPPING LIST (4 sandwiches):

  • 2~ med. sized or 3 small organic avocados
  • 1~ lime
  • 6~ organic green onions (chopped)
  • 2~ vine ripened organic tomatoes
  • 4~ leaves of organic romaine lettuce
  • 1~ package of organic clover sprouts
  • 1~ package of organic, sulfite-free apple wood smoked bacon
  • 8~ slices of your favorite bread (mine is 12 grain)
  • your favorite mayo
  • sea salt, cracked black pepper and Black & Red Spice
LET’S GET STARTED…
Here is a quick and flavorful guac recipe: Start by cutting your avocado in half vertically and scoop out the green goodness with a spoon and add to a mixing bowl. Using a French whisk, chop the avocado until a smooth, creamy consistency. Add the chopped green onion, the juice of one lime, sea salt and Black & Red Spice to taste.  (The lime juice will not only brighten the flavor- it also helps keep the guac from turning brown.)  Cover airtight and refrigerate while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Ahhh bacon I do love thee, but really, really hate cooking you. It’s always such a mess and I get little burns every time, but there is something about bacon that makes me forget how awful it is to cook (I think because it’s just too damn tasty). I made my bacon in a frying pan, but the easiest by far is in a George Foreman Grill (I have become more simplistic with my appliances…my GFG did not make the cut).
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and place your desired bread on a baking sheet. Toast a few min on each side until it’s perfectly toasted. NOTE: You can use a toaster or toaster oven instead of an oven (as you can imagine a toaster did not make the cut either).
Wash and slice your tomatoes…dust with sea salt and cracked back pepper for added flavor.
Wash your romaine and leave to dry on a clean towel or paper towel.
Wash your clover sprouts and leave to dry on a clean towel or paper towel.
Now that all your stellar organic ingredients are prepped, start by spreading your favorite mayo on two slices of bread, and then add a few scoops of guac and then layer 4 strips of bacon, one leaf of romaine, 4 slices of tomato and some clover sprouts. Top this with another piece of  bread smeared with mayo and guac. Serve with your favorite chips (I love sea salt and cracked pepper) and fresh brewed Cucumber White iced tea with crisp cucumber rings (Uber refreshing).
Enjoy & Savor…

KEY:

{GF} = Gluten Free

{V} = Vegan

{Veg} = Vegetarian

{DF} = Dairy Free

{ML} = Meat Lovers

{HE} = Healthy Eating

{<3} = My Faves

A Love Affair w/ Eggplant

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After my trip to the Yiasou Greek Festival last weekend I was inspired to hit the kitchen. Or perhaps the guilt from not taking time to update my blog was a bit of added motivation as well. I fell in love with this simple and full of flavor dish at a cute little Greek Café my friends and I frequent for late night dinners. This dish also highlights my current love affair with Eggplant. While Eggplant is my favorite color; I never tried cooking with it until of late. Well, there you have it! Let’s make some Melitzanosalata!

This recipe is {GF} + {V}  + {Veg} + {DF} + {HE} friendly

SHOPPING LIST:

  • 2~ medium sized eggplants
  • 5~ cloves of roasted garlic
  • 1~red onion
  • 1~ lemon
  • 1/4c.~Italian parsley chopped
  • olive oil
  • sea salt, ground pepper & crushed red pepper

LET’S GET STARTED:

Start with preheating the oven to 400. Pierce several holes with a fork into the two eggplants and place in preheated oven on baking sheet. Bake in oven until soft and tender (about 40min). Pull out of oven and let cool. NOTE: If eggplants are not roasting as desired, cut in half and brush with olive oil and continue to bake. Option II: Slice eggplant, brush with olive oil and dust with sea salt and cracked pepper and grill on med-high heat until tender (grilled option will give a more roasted flavor to the dish).

While eggplant is roasting…

Cut red onions into slices and sprinkle with a little olive oil and sea salt. Place on a baking sheet and roast with eggplants for about 20min or until roasted.

Toss peeled garlic cloves with olive oil and wrap in parchment roast in the oven (on the pan with onions) until golden brown.

After eggplants (drain off excess juice), onion and garlic cloves are roasted and cooled; add to food processor with the juice of one lemon, sea salt and black pepper to taste. NOTE: if puree seems too dry…pulse in a teaspoon of olive oil until desired constancy.

Add pureed mixture to a bowl and stir in finely chopped parsley and crushed red pepper to taste.

Add to a decorative bowl and serve with fresh cucumber slices and your favorite carb (crackers, {GF} rice crackers, toasted pita, pita chips, toasted baguette) and ENJOY!

KEY:

{GF} = Gluten Free

{V} = Vegan

{Veg} = Vegetarian

{DF} = Dairy Free

{ML} = Meat Lovers

{HE} = Healthy Eating

{<3} = My Faves

Winter Lentil Soup w/ Sweet Italian Sausage & Kale

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This clean warm soup is perfect on a cold winter night. Light enough as a first course dish or hearty enough as a main dish when paired with a crusty French baguette.

This recipe is {HE} + {DF} + {ML} friendly

SHOPPING LIST:

  • 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 5 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2- 15oz. Cans of Organic Lentils
  • 8 cups low-sodium/no salt chicken stock
  • 1 bunch (about 1/2 pound) kale (Tuscan), stems removed, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • Sea salt, ground pepper & Black & Red
  • 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar

LETS GET STARTED:

This is a really simple and quick soup. Start with cutting the sausage out of its casing. In a large stock pan over med-high heat steam the sausage with a 1/4 c. water. Stir and break up sausage as it cooks. While sausage is cooking- chop celery, kale & onion. Drain lentils and set aside. When sausage is almost fully cooked, add celery, onion and 1/4 c. of water (cover to steam). Stir a few times until veggies are soft.

Once onion and celery are cooked, add chicken stock, sea salt, pepper and Black & Red to taste. Once stock begins to simmer again, add kale and cover until cooked (about 5 min.) Pull off heat and add red wine vinegar serve hot & ENJOY!

I served this soup with toasted French baguette and a pecan-crusted warm goat cheese spinach salad. It was perfect for a cold January day. It has become a new family fave!

Pecan-crusted warmed goat cheese, organic blueberries, Italian kiwi, oven roasted spinach w/ red wine and honey vinaigrette.

*Soup recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Sausage, Lentil and Kale Soup.

KEY:

{GF} = Gluten Free

{V} = Vegan

{Veg} = Vegetarian

{DF} = Dairy Free

{ML} = Meat Lovers

{HE} = Healthy Eating

{<3} = My Faves

Winter BBQ Tacos

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This is a brilliant dish when your grille is covered in 2′ of snow and you really need a little summer flavor.Winter BBQ Tacos ~ BBQ Rub Tacos w/ Grape Tomato Chutney, Special Reserve Aged White Cheddar Queso & Warm Chips.

Let’s Get Started!

Start with the Grape Tomato Chutney…Mix the above ingredients together and chill while you prepare the rest of the Winter BBQ Taco ingredients.Chop romaine lettuce & grate a block of sharp cheddar. Set aside…

Add 1-2Tbs. of olive oil into a large skillet on med/high heat. Add garlic and chopped onion…saute until caramelized (brown in color). Add in your ground chuck and saute until cooked. Drain off grease and return to med. heat. Add two tablespoons of your favorite BBQ rub and salt and pepper to taste & one can of Rotel…simmer until browned and tomatoes are warmed. Set aside…

Warm taco shells in oven (you can also make your own tortillas, but I don’t have the motivation  to make them during the winter…will post recipes this summer). I like to garnish my tacos with a wedge of lime, fresh chopped cilantro & sour cream. Pair this with a fresh guacamole salad & chips (no avocados were available much to my disappointment) or queso and warm chips (I made one with a special reserve aged white cheddar, cream cheese & Rotel). Mix up your favorite margarita and enjoy with friends!


Supernatural Brownies w/ Cream Cheese Icing- Dark Choc. Drizzle & Caramelized Sugar Heart…Happy V-Day <3

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The Final Product

This is a decadent- fudge like brownie with a less sweet cream cheese icing.

Although there are a few steps to this dessert…it is well worth the time! I have received fab reviews for this Valentine’s Day Treat! I hope you enjoy!  (Brownie recipe: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers, by Nick Malgieri.)

Let’s get started….

Start by pulling your list of ingredients:

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter (cut into tablespoon size)
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet is the best)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan, buttered and lined with buttered parchment (spray works just fine)
  • Set a rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  • One heat safe bowl with small/med. sauce pan (to make a double boiler)


Start by pulling together your heat proof bowl and sauce pan with about 2in. of water…put on burner med/high heat.

Add butter and chopped chocolate stir as it melts…turn down heat.

Whisk eggs together in a large bowl, then whisk in salt, sugars, and vanilla.
Stir in chocolate and butter mixture to the sugar egg mixture…
After chocolate butter mixture is mixed into the butter mixture…fold in flour with a spatula (do not over mix)
Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes, until top has formed a shiny crust and batter is moderately firm. Cool in pan on a rack.
Cool brownies and refrigerate until firm…then take you favorite heart-shaped cookie cutter and start cutting (Please note that these are rich…stick to a smaller shaped cutter).
Let’s start the icing….

Start by pulling your list of ingredients:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (room temp.)
  • 2 t. Vanilla
  • 1- 8oz. block of cream cheese
  • 2+ cups of powdered sugar (you will add to taste preference)

Beat together butter and cream cheese until smooth…then add vanilla and powdered sugar slowly

Ice heart-shaped chilled brownie with the cream cheese icing (chill icing for 30min. for easier application). Drizzle with melted dark chocolate and added a Caramelized sugar heart for an added accent. Serve chilled and ENJOY!