No-Fuss Guacamole

Isn’t it funny how your tastes change as you get older? I used to HATE cilantro. I used to refer to it as “that vile weed”. But now I love it! So I was a little leery about trying a guacamole that doesn’t have cilantro in it! But this one was surprisingly good! Really good! And it really couldn’t have been easier.

rating: 9

No-Fuss Guacamole
(The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook, Justin Fox Burks & Amy Lawrence)

makes 1 cup

Ingredients:

2 rip Haas avocados
2 tbsp finely chopped diced red onion
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp sea salt flakes
1/8 tsp cane sugar
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Directions:

Peel and dice the avocados and place them in a medium bowl. Rinse the chopped onion in cold water to get rid of any astringent onion flavor. Add the lime juice, onion, salt, sugar, and black pepper and stir. Keep in the fridge (with the pit nestled in the guacamole in order to prevent browning) until ready to use.

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Baked Macaroni

I am kind of a mac-n-cheese snob. I am very particular about it. I was a little wary of trying this one. I mean, Cheez-Its?? Pimiento peppers? Onion??? But I figured I would try it. My kids liked it, and my husband ate several helpings (I obviously didn’t give him the calorie count for this one). But me? Hmmm. I have this thing about mayonnaise separating in the heat, and although this looked good going into the oven, it looked VERY GREASY coming out. It kind of made my stomach hurt a little after eating it. I saved a bunch for leftovers today, but I don’t think I will be eating them. Too greasy and oily.

rating: 3

Baked Macaroni
(Country Living, May 2014)

serves 8
time needed: 50 min.

Ingredients:

butter, for greasing baking dish
4 cups grated Cheddar (about 1 pound)
1 (10 3/4-ounce) condensed cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (4-ounce) jar pimiento peppers, drained and chopped
2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked according to package instructions and drained
2 cups cheese crackers, such as Cheez-It, coarsely crumbled

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, butter a 9- by 13-inch baking dish and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine Cheddar, soup, mayonnaise, onion, and pimientos. Add cooked macaroni; combine.
Transfer macaroni mixture to prepared baking dish. Layer crackers evenly atop casserole. Bake until cheese is bubbly and top of casserole is lightly toasted, about 40 minutes.

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Ginger-Curry Cauliflower

This dish needed something, a little kick or pep. It was kind of bland, especially for having all of those spices in it! My two kids liked it, and we thought it was okay, although I have to say that the little bit of leftovers I had that I ate for lunch the next day, were way better. Maybe it has to sit for a bit?

rating: 7

Ginger-Curry Cauliflower
(Real Simple)

serves 4
time needed: 20 min.

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (I omitted)

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-heat. Add the ginger, curry powder, turmeric, and salt and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the bread crumbs and cook another minute. Add the broth and cauliflower and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, add the parsley, and toss well.

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Chard, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyere Crepes

I am always so hesitant about making crepes, but then I make them, and I’m like, “that wasn’t hard at all!” These were pretty easy and were really good, but I had one problem with them: not enough filling! I knew I wasn’t going to have enough, so when I started filling the crepes, I didn’t put much in them at all, and I STILL had two crepes left over. Those I just filled with leftover Gruyere. The next time I make these, I will double the filling. Also, these would be good with a little sauce on top, maybe a creamy mushroom sauce or something? After one bite of these, my husband said “You should make crepes more often!” I agree!

rating: 9

Chard, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyere Crepes
(Cooking Light, April 2014)

serves 4
time needed: 45 min.

Ingredients:

Crepes:
3.4 ounces whole-wheat pastry flour (about 3/4 cup)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk (I used plain almond milk)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (I omitted)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons butter, melted

Filling:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 pound Swiss chard, trimmed and thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (I used walnuts instead)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ounce 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
Cooking spray
1 ounce Gruyère cheese, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)

Directions:

1. To prepare crepes, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine milk, rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and eggs in a blender; process until smooth. Add flour; process until smooth, scraping sides. With blender on, add 1 tablespoon oil and butter. Pour batter into a medium bowl. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
2. Heat an 8-inch crepe pan or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl. Brush a thin layer of oil to coat bottom of pan. Pour 1/4 cup batter into center of pan; quickly tilt pan in all directions so batter covers pan with a thin film. Cook about 1 minute. Carefully lift edge of crepe with a spatula to test for doneness. Turn crepe over when it can be shaken loose from the pan and the underside is lightly browned; cook 30 seconds. Place crepe on a clean towel; keep warm. Repeat procedure 7 times with remaining batter and oil. Stack crepes between single layers of paper towels to prevent sticking.
3. To prepare filling, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook 15 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tablespoons water, garlic, and Swiss chard; cook 5 minutes or until chard wilts. Add pine nuts, pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cream cheese, stirring until cream cheese melts. Remove from heat.
4. Preheat broiler to high. Place oven rack 6 inches below broiler.
5. Spoon 1/4 cup chard mixture in center of each crepe; roll up. Arrange filled crepes, seam sides down, in an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with Gruyère cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Serve immediately.

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Tomato-Vegetable Pasta Stoup

This “stoup” (as RR calls it- combo of soup and stew) was so good! And other than chopping all the veggies, was really quick to make! And if you leave out the pesto, it’s vegan! And it tasted just fine without the pesto. Or, you can make your own vegan pesto! My 7 year old son said that this was the “2nd best dinner” I have ever made! So there you have it. A big bowl of this and a hunk of bread, what more do you need??

rating: 9.5

Tomato-Vegetable Pasta Stoup
(Everyday with Rachael Ray)

serves 6

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 zucchini, grated with the large side of a box grater
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
Salt and pepper
1 can chickpeas (15 ounces)
2 roasted red peppers, chopped
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 pound whole wheat penne pasta (I used rotini)
1/4 cup store-bought pesto sauce, available in the refrigerated case at the grocery store

Directions:

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat with the EVOO. Add the zucchini, carrots, onion, celery, bay leaf, salt and pepper and cook for 7-8 minutes.

Stir in the garbanzo beans, red peppers, tomatoes and stock and place a lid on the pot to bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente, 6-7 minutes.

Turn off heat and stir in pesto sauce. If the stoup gets too thick, stir in a little water. Taste to adjust your seasonings, remove the bay leaf and serve. Yum-o!

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Truffled Orzo with Asparagus

Wow, how could this NOT be good? You’ve got heavy cream, cheese, and truffle butter?? This was very good, although it could have used a little more seasoning (had to add some salt and pepper at the end). This is a great side dish, or could even be the main dish! Truffle butter is awesome!

rating: 9

Truffled Orzo with Asparagus
(InStyle, March 2010)

serves 4

Ingredients:

1 bunch standard-size asparagus (or broccoli)
1 1/2 cups orzo
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp grated pecorino Romano (couldn’t find a vegetarian version, so used more Parmesan)
2 tbsp black truffle butter (found in dairy section)
1 tsp cracked black pepper

Directions:

1. In a 5-quart pot, bring salted water to a boil.
2. Place washed asparagus in boiling water for 1 minute; remove with tongs and set aside, keeping water boil.
3. Cook orzo in same pot for 7-9 minute; drain in a colander. Set aside.
4. Trim the tough stem ends off asparagus and discard. Cut remaining asparagus into 1/4-inchthick slices and reserve.
5. In a medium pan, heat oil, then saute garlic until golden brown.
6. Add asparagus to pan; add cooked orzo.
7. Continue cooking orzo over low heat and add heavy cream and butter, stirring constantly.
8. Add cheeses and stir until they melt and combine.
9. Stir in truffle butter, salt and pepper. Serve in a bowl family-style; top with more Parmesan if desired.

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Applelicious Sandwiches

I have saved this recipe for several years, never making it. The other day I decided to either make it, or throw the dang recipe away! So I made it. And I am so glad I did! The cream cheese/blue cheese/walnut combo? Heaven. HEAVEN. Toby, who doesn’t like nuts in his food (weirdo), ate TWO of these sandwiches. My kids didn’t like them, but that’s okay. They just picked the apples out and ate that. Note: this recipe makes a lot of sandwiches. I only made 4.

rating: 9.5

Applelicious Sandwiches
(Southern Living, Oct 2008)

makes 14 appetizer sandwiches

Ingredients:

2 Gala apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (4.4-oz.) container blue cheese crumbles
1 tablespoon honey
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 (16-oz.) package thin bread slices
1 (5-oz.) package arugula, thoroughly washed
2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

Thinly slice apples. Heat chopped walnuts in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Combine cream cheese, blue cheese crumbles, honey, and toasted walnuts until blended. Add freshly ground pepper to taste. Spread 1 side of each of 28 thin bread slices with 1 Tbsp. cream cheese mixture. Divide 1/2 of the arugula among 14 bread slices. Top with apple slices and remaining 14 bread slices, cream cheese mixture sides down. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter on a griddle over medium heat. Cook 7 sandwiches 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden and cheese is melted. Repeat procedure with 1 Tbsp. butter and remaining sandwiches.

Tip: If you don’t have a griddle, omit butter, and cook sandwiches, in batches, in a lightly greased large nonstick skillet 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until golden and cheese is melted.

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