Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Humming Bird Cake

Buzz Buzz. Its a warm day with pastel 
colored flowers dispersed among the field, with butterflies, bees and hummingbirds flying from flower to flower. It's Spring. Can you see it? Well actually currently it isn't spring. It actually just the start of winter, but this cake (err well in this specific case, cupcakes) will make you feel like you are in spring. It has a warm and heart array of spices but also summery sweetness from the tangy pineapple and sweet bananas. Plus delicious pecans are added to this mix? What more could you ask for? Maybe cream cheese frosting to top it all off? I can make that happen.
Some may not be a fan of 'littering' the moist and light texture of the cake with the pecans. But for me, with a pecan farmer uncle, there always seems to be an abundance of pecans sitting around just waiting to be used in a new way. Plus the parentals are big fans of nuts in the cake, so the nuts stay. If you don't like nuts in desserts, maybe try it with the pecans topped on the frosting. They really do add a lot to the cake, but if you are totally anti-nuts, the cake can be made with out them.

Humming Bird Cupcakes
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour,
  • 1 cup pecan pieces finely chopped 
  • 3 ripe bananas, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

  • For the Frosting:
  • 16 oz of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 12 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange 
  • zest
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg


Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the muffin tins or line with with  paper cup liners.
Toss pecans with the bananas, pineapple and 1/2 cup flour in a small bowl.In a separate bowl mix the remaining 2 1/4 cups flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer, beat the eggs and granulated sugar in a separate  bowl on high speed until thick and light, 3 minutes. Once pale in color, slowly add  in the vegetable oil.Combine the flour mixture with the egg mixture to make a thick batter. Fold in the pecan-fruit mixture, then transfer the batter to the prepared pans. Fill the cups 3/4 full. Bake until the cakes are firm and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Make sure they are completely cool before topping with frosting.

For the frosting: Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer until fluffy. It is extremely important that the cream cheese and butter are at room temperature. (Do not try to do it with cold cheese and butter.)  Add the powdered sugar, zest and spices to the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Comfort Food Face Lift Part I: Mac and Cheese

If your childhood was not filled with an outrageous number of meals consisting solely of macaroni and cheese, you were doing it wrong. Being the extremely picky child that I was, macaroni and cheese was one of the only dishes that I would eat willing. Unfortunately, man can not live on mac alone.  But even now, I sometimes get a craving for ooey goey mac and cheese. Sometimes I will go full out and make a fatty bechamel and load it up with cheese, but when I am looking for a way to revisit a child hood favorite in an uplifted fashion without feeling heavy this is my go to recipe.

  • This is not American styled Macaroni and cheese. It does not taste anything like Kraft or Velveeta or gooey cheddar cheese laden noodles your grandma makes, but it's not suppose to be. This is not suppose to taste exactly like mac and cheese. This is a substitute for it. This is not a direct substitute for mac and cheese, so sorry no fooling your kids on this one; But it is a good option when you want cheese and pasta but don't want to completely undo your workout.
  • Other roasted vegetables can also be added to the pasta. Feel free to mix it up. One of my favorites is roasted eggplant.

Cheesy Pasta

For Sauce
  •  1 head of cauliflower (1/2 for sauce, 1/2 for roasting)
  • 1 1/2- 2 1/2 cups of milk or combination milk & stock (any milk of your choosing, cows, almond etc)
  • 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of minced onion 
  • 1 1/2 tsp of butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp of flour
  • 1 tsp of Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp of dried basil
  • 6 oz of shredded cheese (Mozzarella,  Swiss, cheddar, or Parmesan)
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
For roasted vegetables and other components
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 8 oz of Button Mushrooms
  • 1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp of dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Several Tbs of Oil for sauteing (olive or coconut oil or butter)
  • 1 package of Whole Wheat pasta (I used Ziti Rigate but any short cut pasta will do) 
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Preheat oven to 400℉
Cut the cauliflower florets into bit size pieces, reserving half the head for the sauce and the other half to be roasted.
Place half the head in a medium sauce pan and add just enough milk/stock to cover the cauliflower
Cauliflower cooking in milk mixture
florets. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper each, garlic and onion. Stir. Cover with a lid and let simmer for approx 30 minutes over medium heat or until the cauliflower is extremely tender.
Place the rest of the Cauliflower on a baking sheet. Toss with 1 Tbs of oil, 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper and 2 cloves of mashed garlic. Roast at 400℉ for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower begins to turn golden brown on the edges.
 Wash the tomatoes and then cut in half. Place in a small baking dish. Toss with 2 tsp of oil, 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar and 1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper and dried basil. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes become soft and begin to caramelize.

Don't be worried if the pan looks crowded,
Mushrooms have a lot of liquid in them,
and they will shrink.
Thinly slice the mushrooms. Add to a pan with 2 tsp of oil (olive or coconut or butter) and add 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp of salt. Saute for 12-15 minutes over medium/medium high heat until the mushrooms give up their liquid and begin to crisp.

Bring a large pit of water for the pasta to a boil. 
Once as the cauliflower in the milk mixture has softened, it is time for blending. Using an immersion blender, food processor of blender, blend until smooth. Set aside.
Boil the pasta according to package directions.
Melt 1 1/2 tsp of butter in medium sauce pan (use the same one you cooked the cauliflower in). Once melted add 1 1/2 tsp of flour.  Cook for 1 minute to remove the raw flour flavor. Next, add in the blended cauliflower mixture. Depending on how much liquid you used to cook the cauliflower, you make need to add more stock or milk. Now add in the Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp of dried basil and cheese. Stir in the cheese over low heat until it is thoroughly incorporated into the sauce. Taste and season with additional salt/pepper as needed.
Now it is time to bring it all together. Once as the pasta is done boiling, the sauce is completed, the mushrooms are crisp, and the tomatoes and cauliflower and done roasting combine all of the elements together. Serve with fresh basil.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pumpkin Protein Bars

Even though swimsuit season has passed us, that's no excuse to stop getting swoll. Well, you might be taking in extra protein to get big while you go hard at the gym, but I just like to have a protein bar at lunch to fill me up and help off balance the lack of animal protein I intake in a day. Protein bars are a better option than the typical lunch style granola bar which is typically laden with preservatives, fillers, sugar, fat and low in protein and fiber. By making bars yourself, you get to control exactly what goes in them.  Plus it's a lot cheaper to make them yourself. A lot of recipes out there are peanut butter based, which this recipe does include peanut butter but I like that it is not the main substance of the bar. The pumpkin helps buffer the fat content of the peanut butter and also provides nutrients like Vitamin A. So whether you are looking to increase your amino acid intake to get ripped for the ladies, or you are just trying to stay alive, these bars are a great place to start your venture into homemade protein bars.
As always do not let this recipe box you in. Feel free to experiment and mix in other additions as your heart (or stomach) desires.

Note: While the name of this post is Pumpkin protein bars, my personal preference is to make these with sweet potatoes. Roast 1 medium sweet potato at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the potato is soft and easily mashable. Remove skin, mash and use in replacement of pumpkin.

Protein Bars

  • 1/2-2/3 cup Canned Pumpkin (or fresh, or a smashed sweet potato; 1/2- 2/3 cup depending on how strong you want the pumpkin/potato flavor. Start with 1/2 cup. After the whole mixture is together, if the peanut butter taste is too strong, add the rest)
  • 1/2 cup of Peanut butter (or any other nut butter such as almond butter or cashew butter)
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of protein powder (whey protein; or I use Garden of Life's RAW Protein)
  • 1/4 cup of fiber powder or more protein powder (I use Garden of Life's Super Seed)
  • 1 1/2 cups of toasted rolled oats
          To toast, place oats on a cookie sheet in an oven preheated to 350℉ for approx 10 min or until lightly golden
  • 2-3 TBS of wheat germ
  • 2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice (Or 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of nutmeg, 1/2 tsp of ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp of Salt 

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix the wet ingredients together. Add the Powders, oats wheat germ, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir.
Place in a pan. 9x13 for thin bars and a 9x9 for thick bars. My personal recommendation is the 9x13. Although I love thick protein bars this recipe turns out better in the 9x13.
Bake for 7-10 mins for 9x13 (15-20mins for 9x9) or until set. Make sure to not over cook these. You want them to be just set but still moist and gooey. Wrap and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Missing Cookie Day

"Cookie day": a phrase synonymous with the Friday job of scooping endless trays of Ms. Rogers perfected warm goey chocolate chip cookies.
The students enrolled in the culinary skills program earn money for food and competition by selling cookies every friday. These are not just any old boxed cookies. These are Ms Rogers' cookie recipe.  If you are a student of recent alumni of Blue Springs South than j am sure you are familiar with the deal that goes down in room 517. Three cookies- one dollar. The deal is hard to beat. Unless of course you are one of the students in the Culinary Skills class and then you get three cookies for free.  After weeks and weeks of my Friday mornings centered around chocolate chip cookies, the summer has been empty with out them. I have been craving chocolate chip cookies. I do have the recipe so I could make, but knowing the recipe i know that these cookies are not healthy at all. While real butter is used vs some nasty shortening product, they are still cookies. Cookies loaded with fat, sugar and carbs. In my distress over the desire of chocolate chip cookies I stumbled across Cookie dough dip. You read that right. You now finally have a reason to eat cookie dough. Plus with the changes I have made to the recipe, this dip has protein, is relatively low in fat and in sugar.

Cookie dough dip

I can of white cannelloni beans
1/3 cup of water
3 pkgs of sugar in the raw
1/4 cup of peanut butter
1 tbs applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs honey
1/3 cup of oats (or 1/3 cup of flour)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

*Note: If using a strong and powerful blender or food processor (vita-mix, or kitchen aid food processor)  you can just put the oats into the mix with the beans, but if your blending device does not consistently produce a smooth consistency it would be best to blend the oats separately before adding them to the beans. The oats act as the replacement for flour, thickening the mix. So big pieces of oats are not what is wanted. You want it so be blended finely into a flour type consistency. *

Rinse off the canned beans and place in a pot with 1/3 cup of water. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes until extremely tender. Once the beans are done cooking, drain and place in a strong food processor or blender (like a vita-mix). Blend until smooth. Add sugar in the raw, peanut butter, applesauce, vanilla, salt, sugar, brown sugar, honey and oats. Blend until very smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Place in a container and chill. Serve with graham cracker, animal crackers or even just by the spoon full, which is my personal favorite mode of consumption.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Doughnut Days

Happy National Do(ugh)nut Day! No matter how you choose to spell doughnut/donut you most likely will agree that they are a delicious-and less than nutritious-treat. It's a bit mind boggling to think that we approve a sugar dough that has been fried and then dipped in more sugar is targeted as a breakfast item. When I realized that today, June 7, was National Donut Day, I knew it would be a great post (and also a great way to use up that last egg in the fridge). There is just one problem that doughnuts propose: They are deep fat fried. While I do not mind in the least bit pan frying a component of a meal, there is only one time of year I ever deep fat fry and that is at Thanksgiving. I give in and make homemade fried onion rings to top off my green bean casserole, because for goodness sakes it's Thanksgiving and all the rules are thrown out the window.
But donut? I don't want to go through the hassle of frying. I don't want the temptation of fried dough balls sitting on my counter all day. Fried food does not last very long anyway so I would just be encouraged to eat them all. I knew there had to be a better way, and there is.
BAKING. Hello, you've got a magical heat box right in your kitchen just waiting to be used. Yep, these doughnut are baked and you won't even miss the grease.

Bonus: This recipe can be completed in under 20 Minutes!

Baked & Glazed Chocolate Cake Doughnuts
1 cup of Flour
1/3 cup of Sugar
1/4 cup of Cocoa powder
1/4 cup of grated chocolate or mini chocolate chips (optional-I didn't use any this time around)
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1/2 tsp of salt
6 Tbs (that 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs) of Sour Cream
1 egg
2 tsp of Vanilla
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup of vegetable oil (I used a mix of grapeseed and coconut oil)

Preheat oven to 375F

Making the Dough
Place all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
Place the wet ingredients in a stand mixer (or mix by hand) until it is one homogenous mixture. Next add the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Wet Ingredients
Dry ingredients

Making the Doughnuts
Now you could go out and buy a doughnut pan, but that would be a waste of money. It's an overpriced unitasker which are not allowed in the kitchen. You might say "Well I'll use it a lot to justify my purchase." If you make doughnuts often enough to justify dropping $20 dollars on a shaped pan, than you need to hold back on how many doughnuts you are making and eating.

What I did was put the dough in a ziptop baggie, snip the corner and piped out the doughnuts into ring shapes. Place the doughnuts on a parchment paper or a nonstick sheet for easy removal.
Bake at 375F for 8 mins for medium sized doughnuts or 6 mins for small doughnuts. You will know they are done when they bounce back from light pressure.

Making the Glaze
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup of milk
2 Tbs of melted butter
1 tsp of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Stir all of the ingredients together until smooth. It should have some body but still be very much a liquid.
After the doughnuts come out of the oven, before they are finished cooling place the doughnut "face-down" into the glaze and swirl to coat. Allow the glaze to set by placing the doughnuts on parchment paper or on a cooling rack.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Many Faces of Soup III

If you are so lucky to be graced with the honor of being a resident of the state of Missouri, than you have been enjoying some of the ugliest summer weather that I would never wish for. It has been eerie, gloomy, cold and wet. Not exactly swimming weather. All of this the weather's unstable emotions has had a negative impact on my "allergies." Not that I really have allergies, but I don't really know what to call it the cold like nastiness congregated in my sinuses at the moment. All I really know is soup always comforting in a time of need. So here we go.

Soup: Round 3

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
serve with corn salsa


  • 2 Tbs of oil (like Coconut oil)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 1-24 oz jar of roasted red bell peppers, diced

    OR-Do it yourself! Place 3 red bell peppers under the broiler. Make sure they are within a few inches of the burner. We want to char the skin. It will be black, blistery and will pull away from the flesh when it is done. Somewhere around 10 minutes. Just keep your eye on it. Next, let it cool before trying to pull off that skin. You may want to place it in an ice back to hurry up the process. Rub your hands pepper and the skin should come off. Next remove the stem, the seeds and get rid of that nasty white membrane on the inside.

  • 1/2 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • S&P to taste
  • 1 cup of sour cream OR heavy cream (optional)

Stirring in the sour cream
In a medium to large stock pot heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions, garlic and potato (Seasoned with S&P of course) for 10 mins or until the potatoes and onions begin to soften. Add the bell peppers, cumin, and oregano continuing to cook for another 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock to the pan, reduce the heat to med low-just enough heat to allow the soup to simmer- and cover the pot. Allow to simmer away for at least 20 minutes. After the flavor awakening from the bubbling is complete, now is time for the blending. You could use a blender, food processor or an immersion blender. In this case I used my food processor and it turned out nicely. Just make sure to not over fill the food processor or blender. We want the soup to end up in our mouths, not the floor. No explosions are need. After the soup is nice and creamy, you may add the sour cream or heavy cream to give the puree a more velvety texture, but the decision is totally yours. Serve with corn salsa and enjoy!

Corn Salsa

This is so easy, it's ridiculous.

1 1/2 cups of corn kernel (fresh blanched corn is best)
1/3 cup of grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 Tbs of minced onion
1 Jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 lime (just using the juice here)
2 Tbs of finely mined cilantro
1 Tbs of sugar

Mix all of the ingredients together and (if possible) cover and cool for at least 30 minutes. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Slap in the Face

     Have you ever been slapped in the face by your meal? Maybe not slapped across your face, but I would venture to say most have at some point been given a kick to a certain region of the head. The tongue. And this kick and slap I speak of is heat not of temperature but of spice.
 Some enjoy the adventure of the sensation of having your mouth on fire while others tend to enjoy the calm and soothing waters of gentler and milder flavors. If you are cooking for varied needs as I do, (I adore spicy food; I can't get enough of it. One the other hand my mother likes blah plain-ness. She can barely handle the 'kick' of oregano) There is hope. There can be a compromise. 
     As the days get hotter so does my food. Not hotter in temperature, but hotter in the context of spice. Well, I do mean hotter in temperature for the days, because it looks like we are going to be graced with another of Missouri's hot and humid summers. Although the days have been getting hotter in a "spicy" way as well. Recently everyone seems to be on edge. Everyone seems to have lost their chill pills. Maybe they need something to cool off with? I think the lime slaw and the chipotle cream may help. (While the cooling element of this dish may help cool off the dish their ability to cool off fiery people is debatable.)
Oh yes I have become side tracked and you are probably hungry and just wanting to know what it is exactly I'm making tonight. Well that's the first problem. This meal is the exact opposite of exact. It's a little bit of this and that, that wraps its way up into something that could be called a taco or a tostada, but it doesn't quite fit either definitions. More of a spicy kick and creamy cool in an palate-pleasing brawl. This meal is more of a brawl in a bite.
And now we cook...

Brawling Tostacos 


-Grilled Tortillas

-Marinated and grilled (or roasted) Chicken 

-Roasted vegetables 

-Creamy Cool Red Slaw

-Refried Beans

-Tomatillo Salsa

-Chipotle Cream


Sorry for the poor quality pictures, but trust me, these are to die for. Ok maybe not dying, but maybe falling down the stairs and messing up your hair kind of good.

Grilled Chipotle Chicken

This works great for tacos, for enchiladas, for just eating along side rice and refried beans. Also it is used in my recipe for Brawling Tostacos.

This can be adjusted for any amount of meat.

Two Chicken breasts cut in half
In this case I used 1 lb of Boneless skinless chicken breast but Thighs work great as well. Which ever meat you use you want to make sure you butterfly it, or slice into small pieces creating a high surface area to volume ratio. This way there is more chicken exposed to the marinade and it will cook faster. The marinade in question for the chicken is the Chipotle in Adobo Base. Use just enough to completely coat the chicken.

You want enough marinade
to cover the chicken
Just like how a girl that is getting ready should never be rushed, neither should the chicken. Let it hang out and absorb all the flavors. (If you must rush then it's not the end of the world, but it will be lacking in some development of flavor)

Fire up the grill and get cooking.

After the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 F, remove from the grill and allow to rest for AT LEAST 10 minutes. Place the chicken on a plate and cover with foil to the chicken does not become cold, but do not even think of cutting into that meat. You don't want all your hard work to go to waste by cutting into the chicken and the juices spilling all over the place. After the resting period youo are allowed to dig in. 

The Finished Product

Roasted Veggies with a Spicy Coat

Sweet Potato, diced
This is a great filling for enchiladas, a great addition to nachos and also great in Brawling Tostadas.

Medium Dice on a Red Onion
Roasted vegetables 

  • 1 med/large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 large or 2 small Red, yellow or orange bell peppers (The color is your call, although my favorite is orange)
  • 1 med red onion
  • 1/4 cup of grapeseed, coconut or olive oil, plus 1 Tbs
  • 3 Tbs of Chipotle in Adobo base
  • Juice of 1 Lime 
Even though the picture doesn't show this
very well, make sure to remove all of the
white from the inside of the pepper.
It is bitter and has a nasty texture. 

  • 2 Tbs of Cilantro, chopped

I roast each of my vegetables separate because I find  that it is too difficult to try and figure out how big to cut each vegetable to insure they will all be done at the same time. The sweet potatoes will definitely take the longest. About 20-30 minutes at 400 F. 
The onions, depending on how charred you like them take around 20 (At 400 F). The peppers will take around 10 minutes if you like them al dente like I do (Again at 400 F)

Toss each chopped vegetable in 1 Tbs of oil (2 Tbs for the sweet potatoes). Season with S&P and toss to coat. 

After all of the Vegetables are done, toss with the remaining 1 Tbs of EVOO, the Chipotle in Adobo mix, the lime juice and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Creamy Cool Red Slaw

Cool, crisp and refreshing.

1 small head of red cabbage, rinsed and julienned
1/2 cup of greek yogurt
2 tbs of honey
Juice of 1 lime

 Whisk the yogurt, honey and lime juice together to create a "dressing". Add the cabbage. Depending on how big the head of lettuce you bought was, you may need to reserve some of the lettuce or make more of the dressing. After coating the cabbage, cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 min-1hr (or up to 3-4 hours).

Tomatillo Salsa

2-3 cups of tomatillos-skinned, rinsed and quartered
2 Tbs of diced onion 
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno
2 Tbs of EVOO
1 Tbs of honey
2 Tbs of cilantro, chopped
1 Tbs of blended Adobo mixture

Toss the tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapeno with 1 Tbs of EVOO and S&P. Roast in a 375 F oven for 15-20 minutes. Depending on the size of the tomatillos this could take longer. They are done when the skin peels away from the flesh and the onions begin to become translucent in color. 
After the roasting is done, place the tomatillo mixture in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Next add the other Tbs of EVOO, the honey, cilantro and Adobo mix. Blend again. Taste and adjust as needed. 

Chipotle Cream

This is so easy it's a bit lame. This creamy sauce can take the place of sour cream but warning although it is cool and creamy it does have a bit of a punch.

1/2 cup of non fat plain greek yogurt
1 Tbs of Lime juice
1 tsp of honey

Mix all of the ingredients together. Serve immediately or chill to allow the flavors to blend. 

Chipotle in Adobo Base

I use this as a bade for so many things. Refried beans, salsa, marinades, the list goes on and on. It is so easy and really packs a punch. For something that is so multipurpose in use and packs this much of a punch and it this easy to prepare there is no reason not to make this. 
This is my personal favorite brand of Chipotle peppers
in Adobo. San Marcos has a unique blend of spices
that I adore and in my experience tends to have a lot less
 seeds from the peppers than other brands.

1-7oz can of Chipotle peppers in Adobo
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 Tbs of Olive oil
2 Tbs of Honey
1 teaspoon of Salt
1/4 teaspoon of Pepper

Add all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. That's all folks. It really is that easy. 


Guacamole has to be one of my favorite additions to add to any meal. So creamy and refreshing.
Now before we jump into how to make the guacamole, first we need to talk about finding a good Avocado, because if your avocado is bad there is no hope for the guac.
Now at your average store your going to be buying a Hass avocado which is perfect for making guacamole due to its high oil content. When selecting an avocado for purchase pick one that is dark, no green spots. It should be about the color of avocado #5 in the picture below.

 Also there should be no bulges. If there are vein like bulges on the skin then that means it is over ripe. Those are the nasty brown stringy bits that interfere with the whole goal of creamy and refreshing. When holding a dark, smooth avocado when gently pressing on the skin with your thumb it should lightly give. It should not be be hard nor should it be mush. It should gently yield to pressure but still be somewhat firm.
Perfectly ripened Avocado
Over ripe Avocado

Now that the basis of a good avocado have been covered lets make Guac

-2 ripe Avocados
-Juice of 1 lime (if it ends up being a drier lime than use 2)
-1/2 bundle of Cilantro, chopped (about 3 Tbs)
-1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
-2-3 Tbs of onion, minced (I like using red onion. Also I don't enjoy the taste of raw onion so I finely dice and sauté the onion on the stove for a few minutes, allowing it to cool before adding it to the guac mixture. If sautéing the onions I would also suggest sautéing the garlic with the onions as well)
-1 clove of garlic
-1 Jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional)
-S&P (to taste)
-1/2 tsp of dried oregano (optional-I really enjoy oregano with any mexican based food, but if you don't have it or don't like oregano, it's not the end of the world) 
-1/4 tsp of cumin (optional; I generally do not add the cumin)
-1/4 tsp of cayenne (again the spices are totally optional but should not be quickly bypassed due to their enhancement of flavor) 
(Also if you have some of the pureed adobo mixture you can add 1-2 teaspoon of that for added heat as well)

To remove the avocado quickly and to help the mashing process along, after removing the pit of the avocado chop the avocado while still in the skin. Then you can take a spoon to scoop out the pieces from the skin.
After you have the avocado at your desired consistency add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Also as always, taste and adjust as needed!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Quinoa Cakes

I was inspired by pinterest to get more creative with my usage of Quinoa. I've been interest in quinoa because of the fact that it is a fulfilling grain with such a light and fun texture. It is a blank canvas, forming easily into any flavor you prefer. I kept finding recipes for patties, burger and cakes using the grain with or in total replacement of meat. I had never seen quinoa used as the protein replacer I have a recipe with the same general concept for meatless meatloaf but it uses lentils vs quinoa. After reading raving reviews about its placement at the center stage of the meal, I had to give it a go! 
(I mean come on, you can't tell me that does not look delicious!)
These may sound and look strange but they are sure to fill you up with their satisfying unique taste. This is truly more of an outline than a recipe (as most of my "recipes" are), so have fun and mix it up! 
If you still feel apprehensive about make patties from a grain just think of it as making crab cakes---minus the crab!

rounded cups cooked quinoa (see note below for cooking instructions)
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese (or really any variety, whatever you prefer)
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 medium carrot, finely grated 
3 eggs
3 tablespoons flour (Whole wheat or all purpose) 
1/2 onion, grated
1/2 red bell pepper, diced (really any color will do)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 Tablespoon of oil (EVOO, grape seed or coconut)
Oil for frying (olive, vegetable, grape seed or coconut)

To cook quinoa for the above recipe:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a medium saucepan bring the 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil over high heat.  Add quinoa and reduce heat to low.  Cover and cook for 18-20 minutes, or until all water is absorbed and the seeds are tender.  Allow to cool for a few minutes.
It will look something like this...

Making the Quinoa Cakes
In a large bowl combine all of the ingriedients. (Make sure to allow time for the quinoa to cool down before mixing in all of the other ingredients-You don't want the eggs to scrabble in the bowl with the hot quinoa!)
(To help them stay in patty form and not fall apart, I cook them on med slowly so they have longer to set-up without burning. Makes them easier to flip, too. Also you can stick them in the fridge for a while so the mixture has time to set up before cooking them.)  Heat a frying pan and few tablespoons of oil over medium heat.  Mixture will be slightly sticky, so using a 1/4 cup measuring cup (or my favorite-a cookie scoop), drop mixture into pan and lightly flatten to 1/2 inch thick.  Fry until golden-brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towel.  Makes approx. 12 burgers.
My personal preference for this delicious meal is serving it with a quick yogurt sauce. Just combine a small container (5 oz) of Greek yogurt with 1-2 Tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of chopped cilantro and 1 teaspoon of chopped parsley. Salt and pepper to taste and serve along side of the cakes. 
Also I enjoy eating these patties and sauce with a quick little "salsa" by combining equal parts of diced seeded and peeled cucumber and of seeded and peeled diced tomato with a quick squeeze of lemon juice, splash of olive oil and salt and pepper. 
This whole concoction is great on its own but also could be served hamburger style of a bun with lettuce with the yogurt in place of mayo and the "salsa" serving as the tomato. Along side a simple salad this dish would also shine just as brightly!