Best Guacamole

photo-590There are a few recipes that should be a staple in everyone’s home. I think guacamole is one of them. Especially in the summer, there is nothing better than a big bowl of fresh Guac and chips. When making a delicious guacamole, there are a few key things to remember…

#1 make sure the avocados are ripe… but not too ripe! no one likes a brown avocado or one that’s so hard you could bite into it like an apple! When picking avocados at the store, be sure they are slightly soft when you push your thumb into the skin, but not mushy.

#2 Dice your onions small, no one likes a big ol’ bite of bitter onion/bad breath! #3 Don’t over mix/mash your guac and leave a little chunk in your avocado, I think it tastes better and its easier to get more on your chip! Guacamole is great on its own as an appetizer or it’s delicious with tacos, burritos, and even on your breakfast sandwich! Happy Monday, hope you enjoy!

Guacamole (Serves 6)

  • 3 avocados, pitted, pealed and mashed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced small
  • 1 roma (plum) tomato, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Tortilla chips for dipping

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mash avocados and lime juice with a fork, being sure to leave some small chunks of avocado.
  2. Mix in salt, garlic powder, tomato, red onion and cilantro. Mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning with a pinch more salt if desired.
  4. Cut a piece of Saran Wrap just lager than the bowl, press the plastic wrap down onto the guac so there is no air between the plastic wrap and the avocado, refrigerate for 1 hour. This will prevent the guacamole from turning brown while it is chilling. If you don’t have time to chill it… Serve immediately!

 

Spring Vegetable & Basil Carbonara

photo-575This past weekend I took a trip to St. George in southern Utah for the first time. It was unbelievable, the scenery is so dramatic and colorful, it looks fake. Large red rocks, red sand and crisp blue sky makes you feel as though you are in a poster or movie. photo-578I also walked a Labyrinth for the first time in Kayenta at the Coyote Gulch Art Village. I had never walked in one before. There is one way in and one way out, by meandering through the path you reach the center stone where you can place an offering, prayer or write your name, before weaving through the path the same way you came in. Stepping over the stones or jumping out of the circle is bad luck and disrupts your journey. It was fun activity in a beautiful location! photo-9Walking through the Labyrinth was beautiful and calming- until I got to the center and realized I had to do the whole thing over again! But I was too afraid to jump the rocks for fear of upsetting some Earth God and paying for it later!

When the warmer weather arrives in the spring, I always crave fresh vegetables that are typically sparse in the winter. Even though you can get just about anything at market these days, you can always tell what produce is in season by how plump and vibrant it is! That is why this spring vegetable carbonara is a sweet spring treat!

The basil aioli is a lighter spin on pesto so you can enjoy the creaminess of carbonara with the bold flavors of fresh basil! Feel free to swap out other vegetables if they look fresher at the market! Enjoy!

Spring Vegetable & Basil Carbonara (serves 6-8)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, rubber band left on
  • 1 pound linguini
  • 1 cup Basil Aioli, recipe follows
  • 1 cup shaved pecorino
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Basil Aioli:

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Directions:
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus (with rubber band on) and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice water and let sit until cool, about 5 minutes. Remove from the ice water, remove the rubber band, and cut into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Basil Aioli: Combine the garlic, egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a food processor and run the machine to mix. (you can use a blender or food processor) With the machine running slowly drizzle in the vegetable and olive oil. (Basil Aioli can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
  3. In another skillet add 2 tablespoons of butter and saute mushroom, zucchini, and pepper for 3-4 minutes, add tomatoes and peas and saute another 3-4 minutes until everything is tender. Add cut asparagus to mixture, toss and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the large pot of salted water used to cook the asparagus and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl. Add the Basil Aioli, veggies, shaved cheese, salt, and pepper. Garnish with additional shaved cheese and serve.

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

 

Pumpkin, Spinach, and Tomato Gratin

It’s fall and fall means pumpkin season! Pumpkins and squash are my favorite to cook- they have great flavor and are easy to prepare. This yummy recipe is super easy and a healthy alternative to the classic potato gratin (which I also love)! I got this recipe from the Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco. Their monthly news letters always have great seasonally inspired recipes. Enjoy!

Pumpkin, Spinach, and Tomato Gratin

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb. sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded,  and cut into 1-inch wedges.
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb. fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 28-oz. can San Marino tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 lb. cave-aged Gruyere cheese

Pre-heat oven to 400. To cook the sugar pumpkin, place it on a baking sheet, coat with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.  Roast in a 400 degree oven, until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork (about 20-30 minutes).  Turn half way through the cooking, so that it browns slightly on both sides. (I used sugar pumpkin when I made this but I would recommend using butternut squash instead).

While the pumpkin or squash is baking in the oven wilt the spinach. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Drop hand full of spinach into boiling water until wilted. Remove spinach from water with tongs and place on baking sheet lined with paper towels until all the spinach is cooked.

Next, cut tomatoes in half and set a side the juices. I used San Marino tomatoes since the fresh ones in the store didn’t look amazing. Grate cheese on large holes of box grater. I used Jarlsberg cheese, I prefer its flavor.

To assemble, line a Pyrex or ceramic baking dish (about 14 by 10 inches) with a layer of squash, cover with the spinach, then the tomatoes, cut side up.  Sprinkle with the grated cheese.  Bake in 350 oven, until the tomatoes and cheese have melted, about 30 minutes.  Serves 8.

This dish is great served with chicken, fish or enjoyed on its own. I used the leftover juices from the tomatoes to make my own version of chicken Parmesan.

Easy Chicken Parm

For the Chicken I took 4 chicken breasts and dipped them in 1 egg (whisked). I dredged them in Panko Bread crumbs and placed them in a skillet coated with olive oil on high heat. Let the chicken breast cook about 4-5 minutes on one side before flipping and turning down the heat to medium-low and covering. Let chicken cook for another 10 minutes on low before pouring remaining tomato juices and topping with grated Parmesan cheese. Cover and turn the off heat. Let chicken marinate for a couple of minutes covered on the stove. Serve with Pumpkin Gratin and Enjoy!