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Make the best guac ever

June 25th, 2015 No Comments

  Coming from Texas, I hold a very high standard for fresh guacamole.  At this point, I think I’ve perfected my recipe.  Honestly it’s not much of a recipe, but each component is important.

1.  Ripe Avocados

Since avocados ripen from the inside out, you’ll know it’s ready to go when the point farthest from the core is soft.

At home, cut them down the center and cut into cubes.  Do not stir the guac at all until every component is in the bowl.

2.  Cherry Tomatos

Small tomatoes have a lot more flesh and  less liquid and seeds that you would have to clean out of larger tomatoes.

3.  Sweet Onions

Most people use white onions and they dominate the dip.  A milder onion has proven to keep the bite but not distract you from the avocado.

Chop them up small and remember less is more.

4.  Garlic

You don’t need much, just a clove or two depending on how much you’re making.

5.  Cilantro and Lime

Yes, you need them both.  I cut the leaves of the cilantro in half.  Cut the lime in half and just squeeze half.  Add more to taste from there.

4.  Make Your Own Chips

This might be the most important step!

In a large pan, heat up canola or EVOO, to the point that if you splash water on it, the oil sizzles.  While it’s heating, cut up flour and corn tortillas into strips or triangles. Lay out some paper towels and put some sea salt in a bowl.

Fry up the chips, turning them only once so they’re brown on both sides.  Remove from oil and lay them in a single layer on the towels.  Sprinkle with sea salt. Test out one chip from your first batch to make sure they’re fully cooked and not chewy.  When they’re cool, place in separate bowls if you’re doing corn and flour.

Here’s a shot of the last batch I made for fight night at Kitty’s house. Six people ate the whole bowl!

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Are you a big dipper?

October 17th, 2013 No Comments

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I love nothing more than throwing parties: for dinner, football, birthdays, swimming, or just because.

To kick off, I’ve found I really can’t go wrong with homemade chips and fresh veggies to snack on with an array of dips.  I can make make the dips a day ahead and don’t demand attention.

Here’s a list of my favorites.  You’ll find they’re easy to make and satisfying to mingling friends.

Fresh Guacamole

  • 3 avocados, diced
  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 tomatoes diced with the seeds scooped out
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 jalapeno diced
  • chopped cilantro
  • salt, pepper, squeeze of fresh lime juice

Ranch Dressing

  • 2 cups non-fat greek yogurt
  • package of ranch seasoning (use sparingly to taste)

Pineapple salsa

  • 1 pineapple, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup chopped scallion, green part only
  • ¼ cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced fresh jalapeno
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Ultimate Cheese Dip

  • 6-8 slices of bacon, diced and cooked crispy
  • 2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, soft
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 4-6 jalapeno’s, chopped and deseeded.  The seeds will make it fiery hot.
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup diced green onion
  • 1 cup of crushed crackers
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted

Prehead oven to 350. Combine all ingredients except last 3 in a baking dish so your dip is about an inch thick. Combine last three ingredients and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 20-30 min until bubbling. (Recipe via Simply Gourmet)

White bean hummus

  • 1 can canneleni beans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil plus 4 TBSP
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed garlic
  • salt, pepper, dried oregano

Pulse in a food processor until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

Homemade Chips

  • Fresh tortillas (wheat, flour, corn, your choice)
  • Canola Oil
  • Paper towels
  • Sea salt

In a large skillet, heat about 1/2 in of oil until hot. Test by wetting your hand and dropping water into the oil.  If it pops, it’s ready.  Cut tortillas in quarters or in eights.  Gently place first batch in oil.  Wait for underside to brown and then flip.  Take one out, let it cool, and test to make sure it’s not chewy.  Remove chips and lay out on paper towels to cool.  Put int a bowl and sprinkle salt.  You have to watch the chips AT ALL TIMES.

 

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When you NEED to buy organic + other money-saving grocery shopping tips

August 30th, 2012 No Comments

 

Hilary has our answer!

(Is it just me, or are you loving all of her helpful tips too?!  The girl poses these questions before I even get a chance to ask!)

The rule of thumb is:

If the food comes in a shell,

is not porous,

or you can scrub it,

you don’t need to buy organic.

So you need to buy organic: meat, milk, and produce that you can’t scrub (like broccoli, berries, or mushrooms).  The exception is eggs.  We learned that last week.

With fruit, you need to beware of shiny skins.  They are sprayed down and that pretty shine is the build up of chemicals.  If you are willing to scrub this off (lemon juice works well), then you can feel free not to buy organic.  But with something like an apple or cucumber where it’s almost impossible to get it all off, you should choose organic.  As Hil says, “if a bug isn’t going to eat it, neither should you.”

With fruits like pineapples, bananas, melons, avocados etc, since you peel off the skin, you don’t need to buy organic.


Almonds, all nuts actually, come in shells, so any pesticides they were exposed to were removed along with the shell!  Hilary also says if you buy your nuts in the bags instead of boxes you’ll save money.  Check out the unit price next to the total price.

Other things that don’t have to be organic:

Here are more of Hilary’s insights:

Sugar is sugar.  Cane sugar, agave, maple syrup, corn syrup, it all metabolizes pretty much the same, according to Hilary.  I’m not sure I buy this totally, it’s probably the first thing I’ve seriously questioned, but she claims it all hits your blood system the same way. If you read the “turbinado” bag, it is a “cane” product so I suppose she is right.  She has been about everything else :)  Since sugar is cane and the skin is taken off before processing, then you don’t need to buy organic.

It’s cheaper and better for you to buy frozen veggies in a BAG not a BOX.  Make sure they are flash-frozen to preserve the nutritional value.  Veggies in boxes have usually been cooked once and have additional stuff on them for flavor.  When you cook them again, you are killing the reason you are eating them.

The vine attached to the tomato means that the fruit still has a small source of energy and will last longer on your counter top.

As long as the only additional ingredients in canned beans is water and salt, you’re good to go!

If you are cooking with olive oil, which Hilary does not recommend due to its low smoking point, you don’t need to spend the money on “Extra-Virgin.”  The only time you should use olive oil is for dressings and sauteeing over low heat. Hilary suggests cooking with coconut oil, which I have tried, and adds an interesting dept to my dishes.  I use grape seed oil for simple sauteeing.

Vegetables that have been fried are not good for you.  When you cook something until it’s crunchy, you’ve taken away all it’s nutritional value.  Might as well get chips instead!

Speaking of chips, the “crunchy” rule applies as well.  To my shock and disappointment, sweet potato chips are not better for you than regular potato chips.  THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS WHEN BUYING CHIPS: the fat source – what kind of oil was used to make them.  Look for bags with nut oils instead of vegetable or canola.

If you are going to buy pasta, choose the ones with whole grains so you’re actually getting the fiber the box claims you are.  At the end of the day it’s all pasta and there are many better choices for your source of carbs.

Veggies in the deli case are shinier and more expensive, both of which signal a bunch of stuff has been added.  Opt for the veggies at the salad bar for a lower price and fat content.

More to come on how I’ve been executing Hilary’s actual nutrition plan for me.  It ain’t easy, I’ll tell you that much, but totally worth it when I execute her rules properly.

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