Category Archives: avocado

Grilled Guacamole!

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Grilled guacamole? Who knew? Just when you thought guacamole couldn’t get any better – someone goes and brings out the grill. And voila… this will be the very best guacamole you’ll ever have. Feel free to add extra things like tomato or substitute  the red onion with white – just be sure to grill them.

So fire up the Bar-B and prepare to have a little party in your mouth.

(as always – it’s best to read through the entire recipe before starting. You’ll want to know a few of the steps ahead of time).

Ingredients
3 whole avocados
1/4 of a medium red onion
1 large Poblano pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 lime
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon mayo – if you insist. But it’s fine without!

Preparation

  • Preheat grill on medium flame.
  • Slice avocados in half lengthwise and remove pit (tips on removing pits – but do not slice).
  • Leave halves in skins and lightly brush the flesh with olive oil.
  • Lightly brush the skin of the Poblano pepper with olive oil.
  • Slice onion into 1 inch slabs leaving rings nested. Lightly brush with olive oil.
  • Cut lime in half and brush flesh with olive oil.
  • Finely mince garlic if not using pre-minced.

Ready To Cook?
Place avocados and lime halves flesh side down on grill. Place onion and pepper on grill. Leave avocado and lime alone – it’s tempting to pick up and check but you risk squishing them and losing avocado in the fire. They will take roughly 5 minutes on medium heat. The limes will start to brown at the edge when they’re ready.

Turn pepper regularly until it is blistered all over. You will know it’s done because you will suddenly smell the pungent pepper goodness! CAREFULLY turn the red onion over… you may lose a ring or two into the fire – sing a verse of Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire and don’t sweat it. But the less you turn the onion the less you’ll lose it to the fire. It’s done when softened and has good grill marks.

Once all your grilling is done remove and let cool. You’re going to need to remove the pepper skin. TIP: Immediately put pepper in glass or ceramic bowl and cover tightly with Saran wrap. Let sit for 15 minutes while other items cool. The steam will help loosen the skin and it will peel right off. Cut top of pepper off and slice open to remove seeds. Cut into strips.

Finely dice onion and pepper. Add all ingredients into a bowl and mash well. Add salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. For a creamier guacamole use an immersion blender or food processor to mix everything together. Just don’t over mix or it will become runny. Squeeze 1/2 a grilled lime over mixture and stir.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

(photos taken with iPhone 4)

Fish Tacos with Avocado Crema Sauce

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I may or may not be addicted to fish tacos. Okay, so what… I am addicted. I could have them several times a week, easily. But I’m picky. I want a corn tortilla (seriously you flour tortilla serving people need to stop it)… I want battered fish (yes, I know it’s not the healthy version – sue me)… and I want a good, flavorful avocado-based drizzling sauce and crunchy cabbage (not wilty lettuce). And cilantro. Yes, there must be cilantro.

By the way… for this particular recipe, I broke my purely homemade rule and used Trader Joe’s small battered fish fillets. Mainly because they are made from halibut and are only 6 grams of fat per serving (2.5 fillets) and THEY’RE BATTERED! And I have not figured out their secret yet…

So as usual, when I love a certain food I set out on a quest to perfect a recipe that I will love and prefer to all else. Here’s what I’ve come up with – but be forewarned  – I may continue to tweak it. It’s only close to perfection. One day…

Ingredients
Uncooked corn tortillas (one for every taco you want)
Trader Joe’s battered Halibut fillets (one per taco. Use a different brand if you want – but you’ll regret it)
1/2 cup purple cabbage – shredded (this will be enough for 3 tacos)
small red onion – diced
1/3 cup cilantro (leaves only)
1 large avocado
4 tablesppons Mexican crema
2 teaspoons green Tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons Smart Balance vegetable oil
Course sea salt and ground pepper to taste

Preparation
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Dice red onion and shred purple cabbage – quantities vary based on number of tacos you’re preparing. Scoop avocado flesh out into small food processor or blender. Add Mexican crema, green Tabasco and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy. It should pour like thick cream. Add more crema if necessary. Set aside and cover with plastic wrap.

Ready to cook?
Bake halibut according to directions.
While fish is baking, heat vegetable oil in a fry pan. When it becomes fully heated (it will become shiny – test with a drop of water if unsure – it will sizzle when ready), place one tortilla in pan at a time. As soon as the edges begin to crisp and brown turn over and fold in half. Flip one or two more times until edges brown. Remove and place on paper towel to drain. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt immediately. Repeat for each tortilla.

When fish is done, place a fillet in each tortilla shell and stuff with onion, cabbage and avocado sauce. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy!

The Perfect Bite
Warm and dripping with avocado sauce of course!

The Perfect Pairing
Taco night just screams to be paired with margaritas. But since we’re trying to keep this figure-friendly why not try the new Skinny Girl Margarita mix? It’s a mere 100 calories versus the 500 calorie version served in most restaurants. And guys… just cover up the word “Girl” with some duct tape and you can indulge without having your man card  revoked.

The Perfect Health
Check out these great health stats on the Trader Joe’s halibut fillets!

Vegetarian Spring Rolls w/Peanut Sauce

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Once again I am trying to duplicate something from my favorite Thai restaurant, Thai Phooket. But I love Spring Rolls, especially because they’re fresh and healthy and dipped in a sauce made from peanut butter and Asian spices! Um hello… speaking my language here.

I stumbled across the rice paper wrappers at Nashville’s downtown International Market. So I thought I’d give it a shot. After some online research (Have you checked out TasteSpotting?) I set out to wrap some veggie Spring Rolls.

Let me emphasize here how important it is to establish your mise en place. This process goes quickly once you start rolling the rice paper… so, as always, I suggest reading through the entire recipe before beginning. Once all your veggies and herbs are chopped and ready, make your peanut sauce… since spring rolls are best eaten immediately after being assembled. And you don’t want them sitting around getting soggy while making your sauce.

Ingredients

Carrots
Yellow bell peppers
Green onions
Cilantro leaves
Avocado strips
Bean sprouts
Cucumber
Avocado
(all veg sliced julienne in the slimmest cut you can manage. Quantities vary based on how think you want your rolls to be. I suggest 1.5-2″ around.)
Rice paper wrappers
Fresh basil, mint and cilantro leaves – chiffonade cut

Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbs. rice vinegar
1/2 c. Tamari soy sauce
1-2 tbs. Siracha chili sauce (really however much or little you want)
1/2 c. peanut butter
juice of one lime
2 tbs. sesame oil

Preparation
Julienne all of your veggies in long 2-3″ strips
Roll herb leaves together and slice into a chiffonade and set aside.
Get a fry pan or deep plate that’s at least 12″ across. Fill with warm (not hot) water. You will use this to soak your rice paper wrappers.


Ready to Cook (or rather, assemble)?

For the Peanut Sauce:
Put all sauce ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. It should be creamy but not too runny. Be sure to taste and adjust accordingly. I like it spicier, you may like it more nutty.
For Spring Rolls:
Soak your rice paper sheets in the pan of warm water for roughly 15 seconds.
Begin layering your veggies and sprinkling the chiffonade of herbs across the veg. Once all your ingredients are stacked lengthwise, fold “burrito style” – i.e., Fold in the top and bottom of the roll, and then fold over one side, and roll tightly towards the other. The wrapper will stick to itself well and hold everything together. If your wrapper is drying and does not seem  to seal tightly, dip your finger in water and paint over all the seams.  Place seam-side down on plate. You can serve these whole (below) or cut in two (above)… which ever you prefer.

The Perfect Bite
Just drizzle a little peanut sauce into the roll and enjoy! TIP: if you spoon the sauce onto the cut roll verses dipping straight into the sauce, your roll will stay together better.

The Perfect Pairing
Yalumba makes an amazing little viognier… which is a white varietal that is similar to chardonnay, but not nearly as oak-y.  Richer in musk and spice it’s a perfect balance for the crisp fresh vegetables in the spring rolls and is smooth enough to ease the heat of the peanut sauce.

The Perfect Health
These little beauties are so healthy! Not only are they packed with nutrients from the vegetables and herbs, but they’re a mere 63 calories per roll (95 calories if you add shrimp). Of course there’s 50 calories per tablespoon of peanut sauce… but it’s so rich it only takes a little. So enjoy!

The Backyard Salad

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I love a big salad. A leafy bowl of green goodness, garnished with bright fresh veggies, crunchy nuts, earthy avocado chunks, tangy crumbled cheese and of course , topped with my favorite part of the salad: Good Seasons All Natural Italian Dressing.

This recipe is quite simple and you may be thinking, “Deb, why do I need a recipe for salad? I mean, come on… it’s just salad!” But this particular “recipe” is packed full of proteins (which aren’t normally found in your average side salad) and is hearty enough to be a complete meal in itself. Even for the burliest hungry-man (he may protest initially, but he’ll find himself perfectly satisfied by the time he reaches the bottom of the bowl), and it’s tasty enough for even the pickiest of kids. Also, it’s a great source of filling protein for your die-hard vegetarians. I made this for my friend Cara and I last night. She’s a self-proclaimed “Veg-Head” who was completely full after one plate.

History of the Backyard Salad Name
Kids love this salad and you’ll finally get them to eat spinach without a fuss! When my niece Katelyn was 8 years old (she’s now 11), she took one look at the salad and said, “Aunt Debbie, did you just pick these leaves off the tree in the backyard?” I simply smiled and said, “Maybe…”. She laughed and said, “Cool!” And dug right in. She calls it my Backyard Salad.

So take the challenge and tell me if you finally got your kids to eat spinach. And tell me if you’re still left hungry after polishing off a big bowl of Backyard Salad!


Ingredients

(serves 3-4)
1 large bag of baby spinach leaves (much better for you than iceberg or lighter leaf lettuces & doesn’t turn brown when air hits it)
1 large avocado
2-3 med tomatoes-on-the-vine
1 large cucumber
1 package of your favorite croûtons
1/2 cup of roasted sliced almonds (I use Almond Accents Original when I don’t have time to roast my own)


1/2 cup of crumbled feta, goat or blue cheese depending on your preference.
optionalfor you meat-lovers:
1-1/2 cups grilled or sautéed chicken tenders (sauté in Good Seasons Dressing to maintain consistent flavor)

Preparation:

If adding meat to the recipe, sauté the chicken while chopping the veggies – that way it’ll have time to cool before adding to the salad.

-Wash bagged spinach leaves and put in large bowl.
-Peel and cut cucumber lengthwise in half, then cut into 1/4″ slices.
-Cut tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices and then into quarters.
-Cut avocado in half, remove pit, then slice halves into 4 sections lengthwise. The skin will peel off much easier this way. Then cut your 8 slices into 1″ chunks. A too ripe avocado will turn into mush. Look for fruit that is semi-firm to the touch.
-Add cut veggies and remainder of ingredients (except chicken) to the salad and toss.
-Add 4-5 tablespoons of salad dressing and toss again. It covers a lot but add more if desired. Be careful to not add too much before tossing, or salad can end up soggy.
-If including chicken, add this ingredient last and after it’s cooled down some, or it will melt the cheese.
-Serve in large individual bowls and enjoy!

(If you reserve a handful of spinach leaves and croûtons, you can add them to your leftovers (if you have any) the next day, re-toss and it will revive your somewhat soggy salad. You probably don’t need to add any more dressing of tossed well.)

The Perfect Bite
I like to stack on my fork a piece of chicken, avocado and tomato with a big spinach leaf… then swirl it around to pick up bits of the crumbled cheese and almonds.

The Perfect Pairing
I’m not a fan of fresh fruit in my salad, though some people like to add pears, strawberries or mandarin oranges. Instead, I prefer to pair The Backyard Salad with a crisp, fruity fermented beverage. Monterey’s Bogle Chardonnay adds the perfect touch of green apple and ripe pear. All the fruit I need with this meal!


Did You Know?
A new little handy item I’ve recently discovered is the Hefty Fresh Extend zip-lock baggies. These one gallon gems literally extend the life of fruits and vegetables in the fridge. I like to stock up at the Farmer’s Market… but my fresh goods usually get tossed from rotting before I can consume them all (especially with my travel schedule). The Hefty Fresh Extend baggies have saved me from throwing away food and money.

Baked Almond Chicken Breast with Sliced Avocado

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This is a very simple recipe that takes less than 30 minutes to cook… as long as you marinade the chicken the night before.

Ingredients

1-2 boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 pkg Good Seasons Italian Dressing
1/3 cup light vegetable oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 fresh basil leaves, whole

The Night Before:
First, start with the Italian dressing for marinade. I am cheating a bit since I’m using Good Seasons Italian Dressing (but it even comes with a cute little cruet in the starter kit!). All it takes is one of their magic little seasoning packets, your own cider vinegar, water, and vegetable oil (I use Smart Balance)… and voila! You will have a dressing that people will crave (friends are constantly asking me to “Bring that salad… you know, the one with the dressing!”). Just follow the directions on the packet. Plan to keep plenty of it in your pantry… you will find dozens of uses for it!

Okay, now put your chicken in a zip lock and add the dressing as a marinade. Zip closed and shake to make sure the dressing completely covers the chicken… then refrigerate overnight.

Ready to Cook?
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Pour all the contents from the zip lock into the baking dish. You’ll cook the chickenn in the remaining marinade. Bake uncovered on middle rack for 20 minutes. Then remove and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Return to oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Some ovens may vary… but be sure not to over-cook the chicken or it will dry out.But for a small to medium sized chicken breast, 25 minutes it should still be juicy but you should not see pink in the middle of  the chicken breast. If using pre-cut chicken tenderloins, reduce total cooking time to 20 minutes.  This recipe works great on the BBQ grill, as well.

Slice half of an avocado and stack on the center of your plate. Place chicken pieces on ton and garnish with basil leaves.

The Perfect Bite:
For a mouth watering experience, be sure to stack a cut of chicken, a slice of almond and a piece of avocado together on your fork… and enjoy! Feel free to make appropriate noises of delight.

The Perfect Pairing:
Try a chilled glass of Bolla Pinot Grigio. It’s light and smooth and perfect for a warm Spring evening. $9-$10 a bottle.

Did You Know?
Americans drink red wine too warm and white wine too cold. If you open and set chilled white wine out at room temp for 10 minutes before serving, you will be able to taste the wine as it was meant to taste. And the opposite goes for red wine… it should be chilled for 10 minutes before serving… Read more here.