Mango Guacamole

Apparently tomorrow, November 13th, is National Guacamole Day. I’m not quite sure who coins these days but, if it gives me another excuse to make and celebrate guacamole then, I’m happy.

It’s hard to believe 3 years ago I had never even purchased avocados from the store.  Now I feel as though they’re staples on my kitchen counter.  It’s also rare that you’ll find me without one or two avocados ripening in a brown paper bag in the pantry.

I still enjoy watching one of my first videos on “How to Make Guacamole”:

if you're reading this through an RSS feed, click over to the site to watch video

 

And, once you’re comfortable with basic guacamole and you’re ready to step up your game, you must try this flavorful recipe for Mango Guacamole:

 

Check out the lava rock Molcajete at www.imusausa.om.

Cinnamon and Raisin Quick Bread

quick bread

I have many fond memories of Mom making bread on any given Sunday during the fall and winter months.

The furnace was her special place for the ceremonial bowl bread rising process. Like a kid in a candy shop, she’d relish in sheer delight at the site of risen dough.  Then she’d fastidiously knead the dough and allow the allotted time for it to rise again. I never partook in these events.  I merely watched her with sheer amazement.

While I am no longer fearful of bread making myself (I’ve even made a Challah), I actually approach this culinary experience as if embarking on the most awesome science experiment. However, working with yeast is still a little stressful (for me) and takes lots of patience. If you add water that’s too hot, it’ll kill the yeast. Too cold, nothing will happen. And, you need to be able to block out a significant amount of time to wait for the bread to rise. Sometimes, making bread feels like the shuttle launch; all conditions need to be perfect to yield the ideal loaf.

For these reasons, it’s hard for me to deny a bread recipe that doesn’t require yeast or a rising: a quick bread recipe. The operative word here is QUICK. Honestly, this recipe is as simple as your most basic recipe instructions: combine your ingredients, put in the oven to bake, enjoy.

I found this quick bread recipe over at Weelicious (one of my favorite food blogs).  It peaked my interested because it sounded healthy and delicious: Cinnamon Raisin Quick Bread.  Healthy and delicious? Plus, after a quick glance through my and fridge, I had all the ingredients on hand – even the no sugar applesauce. Who wouldn’t want a nice warm piece of Cinnamon Raisin bread slathered with butter for breakfast?

I whipped this bread up in no time and 50 minutes later, the apartment was bursting with the warm comforting aroma of baked cinnamon.

While the consistency of the bread is very moist, without butter or jelly on top, there isn’t much flavor. I did use regular flour in place of whole wheat flour from the recipe but that wouldn’t make much of a taste difference.  I would  recommend adding more plump raisins as well as doubling the amount of cinnamon— to give it more sweetness since there’s no added sugar.  Next time around, I might try adding some dried apples and dried cranberries.

Hope you enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Spanish Tortilla with Spinach and Manchego Cheese

finaltortilla

One way to make mealtime easier for everyone involved is to theme out some of your dishes. This might seem too cutesy and organized but, believe me, it works.

For example, we’ve renamed Wednesday nights as Breakfast-for-Dinner nights. I started this tradition around the same time I started cooking for this blog–over 3 years ago. I’m not sure why but, my kids claim that breakfast actually tastes better when it’s being served for dinner. I think they feel like they’re breaking the rules by eating pancakes at 6pm. My theory: whatever it takes to get my kids excited and interested in mealtime, I’ll take it.

Our Wednesday night dishes usually take the form of pancakes, waffles, or slow-cooked oatmeal. Of course I also accompany the meal with some yogurt and fresh fruits.   Since I received my copy of The Pollan Family Table last week, I’ve had a voracious appetite and I’ve earmarked so many recipes from the book that I’m going to try. (Look for my review on Amazon.com). The recipes are practical, the pictures are gorgeous; it’s hard not to get inspired to cook. And, the best endorsement of all: the Pollans aren’t professionally-trained chefs so the recipes don’t seem insurmountable to the average or even novice cook.

The other night, on breakfast for dinner night, I decided to make The Pollan Familiy Table Spanish Tortilla with Spinach and Manchego Cheese. I realized that eggs don’t get top billing in our household and we really have no excuses– no one is allergic. And, I was up for making a high-protein breakfast for dinner.

The Spanish Tortilla was a huge hit. I’m fairly certain it was the combination of diced potatoes, cheese, and perfectly sautéed spinach to offset the eggs.

potatoespotatoesdonemanchego

It was baked to perfection and slid right off of the skillet and onto the plate for a near perfect presentation. Now that I’ve got my tortilla groove on, next time around I might add some pesto and some sundried tomatoes.

The possibilities are endless.  Feel free to omit the salt in this one.  I found that the Manchego cheese provided enough salt.

You must try this recipe- for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

 

 

Chicken Quinoa and Broccoli Casserole

Chicken Broccoli Casserole

Now that Bake it Happen has officially come to an end (I will announce results from the campaign this week), I’m back to my normal grind.   A piece of my Sunday afternoons is usually reserved for my weekly meal planning. It helps alleviate any added stress during those frenetic afterschool hours. Armed with a short list of ingredients, Monday early mornings I stock up on the necessities for my earmarked meals.

I’m so thrilled to have received my copy of The Pollan Family Table, the new cookbook from the Pollan sisters and their mom, Corky. I spent a long time reading details about their beloved recipes as well as their communal family table that was the anchor to their lives when they lived at home and still is decades later. It made me reminiscent of my childhood, our family dining table (the gathering place for many), and the importance of family mealtime. I continue to be inspired when I hear people’s individual stories about food and family. And, I most intrigued when I get the opportunity to cook a recipe that’s a family heirloom, potentially passed down from generation to generation.

In just a few minutes I found 5 different dishes (between chicken and fish) from the book that I’m going to try. I strive to diversify our meals, even with a picky eater on my hands. And, if the main dish isn’t a crowd pleaser, I’ve learned to always have one side dish that’s a homerun. I hung up my short-order cook hat three years ago when I started this blog.

Before I head out to the market, I wanted to share with you a very easy casserole recipe. I’ve found casseroles to be the perfect dish for those cool fall/winter nights. They’re quite tasty but, most importantly, they’re very hearty, and keep us warm. Since one piece is soo filling, you’ll definitely have a lot leftovers that can last you the better part of the work week.

I have yet to take a casserole picture that didn’t look like a science experiment gone bad but, just imagine all of those succulent flavors merging together to create a nice warm, dense meal.

broccoliquinoa

And, you won’t have to go through a scavenger hunt to find all the ingredients.  You might just have them in your fridge/pantry; except for the Gruyere cheese?

Hope you enjoy and put this into your winter month meal rotation.

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