Guacamole & Salsa

Woah! Two delicious party recipes wrapped into one blog post! Please, try and contain your excitement.  My guacamole recipe is loved by my family and friends but mostly, by my mother in law.  It’s so simple to make along with the mild salsa, right beside it. Since my husband and I were stationed in Texas, we fell in love with several Tex-mix recipes. The foodie that I am, tries to replicate them to the best of my taste buds abilities. Both recipes take only a couple minutes to make and have only fresh ingredients and spices in them. The guacamole is to cool you off while the salsa only heats you back up. Keep a margarita close for these two party favorites!

 

Sandy’s Guacamole

Makes approximately 2 cups

  • 1 large Haas avocado or 2 small avocados (dark skin and squishy)
  • 1/2 medium White onion (chopped)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (peeled and rough chopped)
  • 1/4-1/2 Fresh Jalapeño (no seeds and rough chopped)
  • 1 Roma tomato (diced and 2 tbsp separated for topping)
  • 2 tbsp Fresh parsley or cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 Lime (juiced)
  • S & P to taste
  • Dash of hot sauce (more or less to add additional heat)
  • 1/4 cup EVOO

Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender. Pulse for a thicker guacamole or mix on low for 30 seconds to 1 minute for a creamier texture (which I prefer). If the avocado is a little harder than desired, more EVOO and lime juice may be needed. Once the guacamole mixture to your preference, pour into a bowl and top with tomatoes and parsley. Keep in the refrigerator until serving.

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Recipe 2 below

 

 

Texas Style Salsa

Makes approximately 2 cups

  • 2 Roma tomatoes (roasted , skins removed, diced) + 2 Roma tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 Red, orange, or yellow pepper (halved; one half roasted and diced, other half diced)
  • 1/2 -1 Whole Jalapeño (chopped and de-seeded)
  •  1/4 Fresh parsley or cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 Lime (zested and juiced)
  • Dash of white sugar
  • 1/2 Small red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 White onion (chopped)
  • S & P to taste
  • 1/8 tsp Dried oregano (optional)
  • Dash of Liquid smoke (optional)

 

Roasting tomatoes and pepper- half the tomatoes and pepper. Toss is EVOO, S &P, and garlic powder. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 400°. Remove the tomato skins after roasting and cooling.

Put all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and pulse until your desired texture. Texas style is thin and soupy. Serve with tortilla chips and the guacamole recipe above. As always, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Crabby Ragoons

I am so excited to share this recipe because these ragoons are delicious, super easy to make, quick to put together, and are so versatile! Also, unlike traditional regions, these are baked with eliminates a majority of fat from not having to fry them. They are a great side dish to your favorite Asian style meal or serve them at your next party or gathering. From start to finish, it takes about 45 minutes to make these yummy delights and about 5 minutes to devour. Follow the recipe below or change the ingredients your liking. Either way, they are awesome!

Crabby Ragoons

Makes approximately 24

  • 24 Won Ton sheets (usually comes in a large package of 75)
  • 1 pkg Neufchatel cheese or low fat creak cheese  (room temperature)
  • 1 cup Chopped imitation crabmeat (use real crab if available)
  • 2 Green onion (chopped)
  • 1 Garlic cloves (grated)
  • 1 tsp Fresh parsley (chopped)
  • S & P to taste
  • Dash of white sugar
  • 1/4 cup Water (on the side in a bowl)
  • Cooking spray (coconut oil preferred)
  • Sweet and Sour sauce

 

Preheat the oven to 350°, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray them lightly with the cooking spray and set aside.

Next, mix together the cream cheese, green onion, garlic, parsley, s & p, sugar, and crabmeat in a bowl until completely combined. Place all 24 won ton sheets out on a flat surface and with a teaspoon, scoop the filling onto the middle on the won ton sheet. Then, dip your index finger into the water and spread it along the outside portion of the won ton. The water will allow the won ton to stick together during the next step Do about three or four at a time and then take the opposite side of the won ton, pinch them together and pull towards the middle. Repeat with the other side. This will form your ragoon.

 

When all of the ragoons are filled and formed, place them on a baking sheet and quickly spray them with the cooking spray. This will help them to become nice and crunchy. Place the baking sheets into the oven and bake from 15-20 minutes or until the ragoons are crispy and slightly brown. If the filling starts to come out, you know you have over filled them but they will still be just as delicious.

 

Finally, once the ragoons have cooled, place them on a serving plate with a side of sweet and sour sauce. As always, enjoy!

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Try the ragoons with jalapeños for a Mexican flare or with Nutella and powdered sugar for a sweet dessert

Summer Ratatouille

Talk about the ultimate veggie dish! First of all, what is ratatouille? It’s a mix of seasonal vegetables, cooked down with garlic and olive oil. In other words, heaven! You truly can use any vegetable of your liking and they don’t have to be baked. You can place them in a foil pan and grill them, which would be bring awesome flavor to summer meal! (Also, super easy clean up!) Below is what I used but feel free to substitute any veggies to what you may like.

 

Summer Ratatouille

Serves up to 4

  • 2 large Red potatoes (sliced)
  • 1 Long, skinny sweet potato (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 large Yellow squash (sliced)
  • 1 large Zucchini squash (sliced)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes (sliced)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely diced)
  • 1/4 Olive Oil
  • S & P to taste
  • 3 tbsp Fresh parsley (chopped)

 

Spray a large casserole pan or foil pan with a non stick oil. Pre heat the oven to 400° and begin arranging the veggie slices to your liking. The slices for all the veggies should be the same width; about 1/4 inch thick or thinner. Work from the inside out so that way any empty spots can be filled in with extra veggies. Once they are arranged, pour the olive oil and garlic over all of the veggies. Sprinkle on your S & P, parsley, and parmesan cheese.

Cover the casserole dish or foil pan and bake the ratatouille for a half an hour. Remove the cover or foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes. This will allow everything to settle and also make it easier to remove from the pan. Note: if you are grilling, maintain the temperature on the grill to 325°-350°. Otherwise the bottom may burn. As always, serve and enjoy!

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Cheesy Beef Enchiladas

Ever since my husband and I lived in Texas, we have had a love for all Tex-mex food. Whether it be tacos or and tamales, we enjoy all parts of this cuisine. The food loving person that I am, enjoy learning how to make all of it along with some tricks and secrets along the way. When you add warm and spicy to cool and fresh, it just makes for a wonderful relationship that you can’t just forget. Please, try this recipe and you’ll see exactly what I mean!

Cheesy Beef Enchiladas

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 lbs Ground Beef (73%-80% lean)
  • 1 pkg Burrito size white flour tortillas (or homemade recipe in blog)
  • 2 cups Colby jack or mild cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 1 medium White onion (diced)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (finely diced or grated)
  • 3 tbsp Fresh parsley (each tbsp separated)
  • S & P to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp White sugar (optional)
  • 1 small can Diced green Chiles (mild)
  • 1 large can Red enchilada sauce (any brand you prefer)
  • 1 can Black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • Toppings- diced tomato, shredded lettuce, green onions, sour cream, etc. Plus any additional sides-refried beans, rice, guacamole, etc.

 

First, preheat a large skillet, on medium heat and begin cooking the beef. As it is cooking , break the meat into smaller pieces. About half way through add in the onion, garlic, S & P, 1 teaspoon of parsley, and garlic powder. Turn the heat down slightly, and continue cooking until the meat is cooked completely and onions have started to soften. Add in a teaspoon of diced chiles and stir. Remove the cooked beef from the heat and set aside.

 

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Next, remove the burritos from the package or container and place on a flat surface to begin the filling process. Place the meat, drained black beans, shredded cheese, and casserole dish in an assembly type line. Mix the remainder of the chiles into the enchilada sauce and add to the assembly line as well.

First, place about 1/3 of a cup of the cooked meat onto a tortilla. Next, add in about 2 tablespoons worth of black beans and about the same amount of cheese. From one end to the next, roll the burrito up carefully and place into the casserole dish. Repeat this process until the casserole dish is filled. The enchiladas should be packed tightly together. Next add on the mixture of enchilada sauce and chiles to the top along with tomatoes and green onions(if desired). Place additional cheese on top and bake for about 20-25 minutes at 375°. If you can cover the casserole dish do so or cover with foil. (If not, they will dry out quickly.) Remove the cover for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.

Remove the pan from the oven and let the enchiladas set for approximately 5 minutes. If not, it may make it difficult to remove them when serving. Once they have cooled, serve with any of your favorite topping and sides. As always, enjoy!

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Feel free to add additional spices such as oregano and cilantro

 

 

 

Grilled Iceberg Salad

What is there to say about a salad, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, grilled to perfection, and consumed ever so quickly? It’s so delicious that you don’t realize that with each bite, your senses are punch with smoky flavors you can’t get with just an ordinary salad. It takes about 5 minutes, from start to finish and you can change it how ever you would like.  And for those of you asking, does it stay warm? Does the lettuce wilt? The answers are no.  Read my recipe below and try it! You’ll see!

 

Grilled Iceberg Salad

1 head serves 4

Balsamic Vinegar Dressing (glaze)

  • 1/8 cup EVOO
  • 4 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of S & P
  • Pinch of Sugar
  • Pinch of Garlic powder

Salad Fixings

  • 1 head Iceberg lettuce (quartered with root attached)
  • 3 tbsp Blue cheese dressing (per wedge)
  • 1 large Tomato (diced)
  • 1 medium Cucumber (peeled and diced)
  • 1/2 cup Croutons
  • Additional fixings (optional: bacon bits, blue cheese crumbles, toasted pecans, pear or apple slices, cheddar cheese, etc.)

 

Indoor grill or outdoor grill (preferred)

Preheat the grill to about 250°-275°.  Put all the ingredients of the glaze into a container that closes tightly. Shake for about 30 seconds or until completely mixed. With a basting brush,  coat all the sides (except for the rounded outside) of the lettuce. Place the lettuce onto the grill for about 30-45 seconds. Repeat on the other side and remove from the heat immediately.  Do not put the grilled lettuce in the refrigerator; that will make it wilt. Set the lettuce aside and let it cool at room temperature for a couple minutes.

After the lettuce has cooled, add any additional ingredients of your liking and serve.  Tip: when the lettuce is on the grill, you should be able to smell the balsamic vinegar and when that smells goes away, the lettuce is ready to be removed from the heat.

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Simple Cream Puffs

What can I say? These little desserts are light, airy, simple, creamy, and delicious. They are perfect for a party or a sweet date night in. Share them or don’t! Cream puffs look so hard to make but truly they are so simple! Although, I love the traditional ones, (that are pictures above) my husband, would prefer chocolate on the inside. You can add orange cream to the center and dip them in ganache or make cannoli filling for an Italian night. Any way you decide to make cream puffs, they are so good and the recipe below will show you how simple they are to make! Even for those not too good at baking. Give them a try!

Simple Cream Puffs

Makes approximately 20

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Dough

  • 4 Eggs plus 1 egg mixed for glazing tops
  • 1 Stick unsalted butter
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon and nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 cup AP flour

Filling

  • 1 Large box of cook and serve pudding (vanilla)
  • 1 1/2 cups Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 pint Whipping cream
  • 1 tsp Confectionary sugar
  • 3 tbsp Confectionary Sugar (decoration)

 

First, in a medium size kettle, pour in the milk, the contents of the pudding packet, and the vanilla. Stir and bring to a boil on medium heat. Once the pudding has thickened, remove from heat and let cool. Transfer the warm pudding into a container with a lid, and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Next, in a large mixing bowl, add the whipping cream and 1 tsp of confectionary sugar and whip on the highest speed. You should only have to whip the cream for about a minute or until a light fluff has formed. If you over mix the whipped cream, it will look like butter.  Place the whipped cream into the refrigerator until the pudding is cooled.

Once the pudding is cooled, gently fold the whipped cream into the pudding. This is your filling aka pastry cream. It should be light and fluffy. Put the pastry cream into a zip lock bag and cut a tip off to insert into the bottom of the puff.

For the puff, in a medium pot, melt the butter on medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add in the water, sugar, salt, extracts, spices, and flour. This should make the dough into a tight ball. Remove the pot from the heat and let it stand for 3-4 minutes. Then add the 4 eggs, one by one and stir quickly. This will loosen the dough slightly. (The dough will look like blobs until it is completely mixed) Scoop the dough into a separate zip lock back and cut a tip off to pipe the puffs onto a baking sheet.

 

The puffs should be about 1 inch by 1 inch and need to be on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Mix up the additional egg and brush on the top of each puff. This will give them a glazed look. Bake the puffs for 28 minutes at 375°.  Let them cool for 10 minutes before filling.

 

Now that the puffs and filling are made, poke a small hole with a butter knife on the bottom of each puff. Take the zip lock, with the filling inside, and slightly press to fill the puff. Once it is filled, you should feel slight pressure to pull it out. Place on a flat surface and sprinkle confectionary sugar on top. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. As always, enjoy!

 

Feel free to use instant pudding, if you choose. The cream puffs won’t have the same taste but they will still good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

When I first made this soup, I put three different milks in it and it was so heavy.  The second time I made it,  I removed two and something was missing. Finally, I came up with best combination, with few calories (in my opinion).  Some recipes have tons of veggies packed in. By all means, I truly encourage that! (kale would be awesome!)  I found though, after blending the soup, it never became quite as creamy. As always, adjust the recipe to your liking and enjoy what you’re feeding your body.

 

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Serves 4

  • 1 bag Frozen Broccoli crowns
  • 2 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • 1/3 cup Half & Half
  • 1/2 medium Onion (chopped)
  • 2 Garlic cloves (diced)
  • 1/2 cup Carrots (chopped)
  • S & P to taste
  • 1/4 tsp Onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese (shredded) plus 1/4 cup for topping

 

First, place the 3/4 of the broccoli, stock, onion, garlic, carrots, S & P, onion powder, garlic powder, and parsley into a pot. Cook on medium high heat until it begins to boil. Turn the heat to low and cook for another 5 minutes or until the carrots have softened.

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Once the veggies are completely cooked, remove the pot from heat and use either an immersion blender or a regular blender to smooth the soup. Caution: be very careful because the soup is extremely hot and can cause burns. Blend the soup until your desired consistency. Then put the soup back into the pot and place on the stove on a low heat.

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As the soup begins to heat up, add the half & half ,3/4 cup of cheese, and the remaining broccoli. Stir until everything is combined. Cook the soup until it is hot enough for your liking. Serve and top with additional cheese. Enjoy!

*This soup is exceptional with a turkey sandwich or submarine. *

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