Avocado Salsa

   

I’m pretty excited because I inherited Jah’s old laptop and Chris got it all set up for me over the weekend. Now I’ll be able to pop into a coffee shop to write my blog posts (hopefully with a little more frequency) whenever I feel like a change of scenery. The laptop even has Photoshop installed so I can do all of my photo editing and monster doodles when I’m out as well. Today’s post of Avocado Salsa has been brought to you by welcome secondhand technology!

Avocado Salsa

Sometimes you just know when a recipe is good, and this time it was because I made it four days in a row and everyone still loved it. The first time I made this it was simply an experiment – something I needed to throw together in a very short period of time to get dinner on the table quickly. It was well received and requested for dinner again the following night. Once I decided that Avocado Salsa was worthy of its own post, I needed to make it yet another time to get photos… then the battery managed to fall out of my camera, losing most of the pics from the shoot. That of course meant I needed to make it a fourth time, to ensure I had enough shots to share with my readers. I figured I’d take the opportunity to change the mood as well, which is why this photo is dark but the ones from the second session photos are bright. I appreciate both sets in different ways.

Avocado Salsa

Each night we ate the salsa a little bit differently than the last. Day one was on vegetarian chicken fajitas, day two was dolloped over the top of black bean soup, day three was spooned over nachos with queso, and day four was rolled up into soft tacos. Then of course we’d just dip tortilla chips straight into it as well. I love it when a recipe this simple has so many uses.

Avocado Salsa

Avocado Salsa
Serves 4
A satisfying southwestern dip with avocado, cherry tomatoes, and cumin.
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 20 grape tomatoes, quartered (about two handfuls)
  2. 1/4 onion, diced (raw or cooked - see notes)
  3. 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  4. 1/2 tsp olive oil
  5. 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  8. 1 avocado, diced (choose a ripe but firm avocado)
  9. 1 tablespoon lime juice (I got this much from half of a small lime)
  10. 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. Combine tomato, onion, jalapeno, olive oil, salt, cumin, and garlic powder in a medium sized bowl. Stir well to combine.
  2. While the tomatoes are releasing their tasty juices, you can chop up the avocado and cilantro. Gently toss them with the tomato mixture and fresh lime juice.
Calories
  1. 83
Notes
  1. If anyone you know is susceptible to indigestion, cooking the onions first will make them very happy - plus it tastes delicious! I broil or grill my onion in the oven before dicing it up if I know I have an onion-sensitive friend eating over.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/
Avocado Salsa


Spicy Avocado Pizza

   

Sometimes when you’re running low on ingredients, you’re forced to improvise. To make unusual decisions resulting in things you might not ordinarily try if you had say… some tomato sauce or mozzarella cheese around. The results of this culinary ad-libbing has a name… and that name is spicy avocado pizza.  

Spicy Avocado Pizza

Don’t let the spicy part frighten you. While this pizza definitely packs some warmth, the avocado is surprisingly effective at mellowing the heat out once it hits your tongue. The first time I made this pizza I made it with a whole avocado, pepper jack cheese, and no jalapeños. After revisions the pepper jack cheese was upgraded to habanero jack cheese (oh yes), the avocado was cut in half, and sliced jalapeños were scattered across the top.  Cranking up the pepper dial to 11 and halving the avocado resulted in just the balance I was looking for.  So if you have a pizza crust lying around but only have ingredients on hand for guacamole – fear not! This pizza will save you.

Spicy Avocado Pizza

Spicy Avocado Pizza
Serves 3
A perfect balance of peppery kick and cool, creamy avocado - on a pizza!
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 prepared pizza crust (I like thin crust)
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1/2 avocado
  4. Juice from 1/2 of a lime
  5. Salt, to taste
  6. 3 ounces habanero jack cheese (pepper jack will work as well)
  7. 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  8. 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
  9. 6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven according to package instructions for your prepared pizza crust.
  2. Blend avocado with the olive oil, lime juice, and a pinch of salt. Spread evenly over the crust.
  3. Sprinkle half of the cilantro atop the avocado, then top with shredded cheese.
  4. Scattered sliced jalapeño and quartered tomato over the pizza. Transfer to oven and bake according to package instructions.
  5. Remove pizza from oven and top with remaining fresh cilantro. Slice and serve.
Calories
  1. 301
Note
  1. Calorie information is based on using the prepared pizza crusts by Pizza Romana.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/
Spicy Avocado Pizza


Taco Pizza

   

For those times when you can’t decide between taco night or pizza night, may I present for your consideration – Taco Pizza Night! I love this recipe because it’s high in protein and easy to throw together. Not only that, but you can scale the calories back to 170 calories per slice (340 calories for 1/3 of a 10-inch pizza) by using a reduced fat cheese and leaving off the avocado. Personally I think the 205 calories per slice is totally manageable in my diet though… and I never like to forgo the real deal when it comes to cheese! If you’re looking for a simple weeknight meal that can be whipped up in under half an hour, then this pizza should make its way into your oven and then into your mouth.

Taco Pizza

One of the things that makes this meal so easy to prepare is the use of a pre-made pizza crust. For the longest time I used whole grain lavash sheets to make a lower calorie variation on traditional pizza – like with my Quick Low Calorie Flatbread. Then I made an awesome discovery. One evening while doing my grocery shopping I came across the par-baked crusts from Pizza Romana and was shocked to see that the entire crust was only 300 calories. For comparison, a Boboli 8″ personal pizza crust is 380 calories while the 12″ pizza crust is over 1000 calories. The Pizza Romana crusts are about 10″ wide and made with very basic ingredients (flour, yeast, salt, oil). It makes for a perfect blank canvas to host an array of pizza toppings, and of course it worked wonderfully in this taco pizza. I’m able to find these at Central Market in Dallas – other HEB stores may carry them as well. If you cannot find these crusts in your area, Amazon happens to sell them by the 6-pack but the shipping cost is kind of ridonkulous. Another option would be making use of lavash as I did in my previous pizza recipe, or any other thin flatbreads that are readily available to you. And of course if you don’t care about the calories… by all means use whatever crust you want! Just make note that this could affect the overall cooking time.

Taco Pizza

Taco Pizza
Serves 3
A simple-to-prepare weeknight pizza that’s full of flavor.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 premade pizza crust (I used the one by Pizza Romana)
  2. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  3. 1 small yellow onion, diced
  4. 1/2-1 jalapeño pepper, diced (remove seeds for less heat)
  5. 1 mini sweet red pepper, diced (or 1/2 bell pepper)
  6. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 1/2 package or 1 1/2 cups vegetarian burger crumbles, thawed (I used Morningstar Farms)
  8. 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  9. 1/4 cup water
  10. 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  11. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  12. 1 tablespoon chili powder
  13. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  14. 2 1/2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  15. 8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  16. 1/2 avocado, sliced (or cubed depending on your preference)
  17. Chopped cilantro & green onion for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450F (or whatever temperature your packaged crust suggests.)
  2. Using half a teaspoon of your olive oil, rub it along the outer edge of your prepared pizza crust. Lightly sprinkle with salt if desired. I find this gives a nicer texture and flavor to the crust when it comes out of the oven.
  3. Heat the remaining half teaspoon of olive oil on medium high heat in a nonstick skillet.
  4. Put onions, peppers, and garlic in the oil and let cook for a few minutes until soft and fragrant.
  5. Add burger crumbles, tomato paste, water, and seasonings to the pan. Let simmer for about 5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle about half of the cheese onto your pizza crust. Since there is no sauce the cheese will act as a “glue” to hold your toppings in place. Evenly distribute the taco crumbles over the top of the cheese and then top with the remaining shredded cheddar.
  7. Place pizza directly on the oven rack and bake for 6-8 minutes or until the edges of the crust are crisp and golden. Use your crust’s package instructions as a guideline for cooking time.
  8. Remove from oven and top with fresh tomato, avocado, and herbs.
Calories
  1. 415
Notes
  1. Calories listed are for 2 slices or 1/3 of the whole pizza.
Variations
  1. Non vegetarians can brown 1/2 a pound of ground beef in place of the crumbles. Make sure to drain off excess grease before seasoning. I calculated the calorie info subbing in 80% lean ground beef and the calories/protein content were almost exactly the same as the original.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/

Taco Pizza

 

 

 


Veggie Chicken Enchilada Bake

   

I’ve decided that starting a blog post is the most difficult part of the food blogging process. Cooking is obviously no problem since I love to do it anyway. Logging all of the ingredients into a calorie tracking website to get the nutritional info can be mildly annoying, but I often have someone on standby that I shout ingredients at from the kitchen to do that job for me. Photography is another thing I enjoy, though admittedly food styling and presentation is a new world for me and I have a lot to learn (as the photos from this particular recipe will prove). Filling out the post with random details of how I made the dish, submitting my recipes to the various food blogger sites, updating my Gouda Monster facebook page… all things that I can manage to do alright. Actually starting the post though? Writing those first few lines and figuring out how to get things rolling? That’s tough.

Well I guess I got that out of the way… this time.

This enchilada bake is something I whipped up for lunch last week when I knew I had some corn tortillas in the fridge to use up. My first attempt was tasty, but not something that I felt was good enough to warrant posting about. More specifically, the dish was a little bit runny and not all that attractive to look at. It had nice flavor but it wasn’t enough to leave you wanting it again. I picked apart the flaws, readjusted the recipe, and made it again for dinner a few nights later. I’m giddy to report that the revised version is fantastic! It’s definitely something I look forward to making again.

You know what else makes me giddy about this enchilada bake? It’s under 350 calories. Actually it’s 349 calories, but I love being able to – with good conscience – say “under 350”. To any of my readers that aren’t vegetarian, just use cooked, shredded chicken in place of the Quorn. Also, I used Neufchâtel cheese in the chicken layer but using cream cheese (or any other soft cheese) would be a perfect substitution. I only used Neufchâtel because it’s what I had in my fridge at the time.  I baked this in a round ramekin that was the perfect diameter for the corn tortillas. Everything stacked up neatly in the center which made assembling a breeze. If you don’t have a small, round baking dish you may want to double up the recipe so that you can layer the tortillas side by side in a larger dish.

Oh and in case you wanted to see how this stuff looks like when it’s turned inside out in a poor attempt at plating, here you go… I have no shame.

Veggie Chicken Enchilada Bake
Serves 3
Zesty, creamy, cheesy, and filling.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
55 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 1 jalapeno, diced (remove seeds for less heat if you prefer)
  3. 1/2 onion, diced
  4. 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  5. 1 4oz can green chiles, drained
  6. 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained
  7. 1/2 cup salsa, drained
  8. 2 cups Quorn tenders, shredded or diced (free free to sub shredded, cooked chicken if you’re not vegetarian)
  9. 2 tablespoons soft cheese, such as Neufchâtel or cream cheese
  10. 3 corn tortillas
  11. 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  12. 1 tablespoon chili powder
  13. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  14. 1/2 cup shredded monterrey jack cheese
  15. 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a nonstick skillet heat one teaspoon of olive oil and cook the jalapeno and onion until translucent. Remove from heat.
  3. Combine salsa, soft cheese, 1/3 of the onion mixture, 1 tablespoon of the cilantro, half of the chili powder, and a dash of salt in a bowl. When the sauce is blended stir in your cooked Quorn tenders.
  4. In another bowl stir together black beans, 1/3 of the onion mixture, remaining chili powder, and ground cumin. If you’re using a low sodium variety of canned beans you may want to add a little salt to taste.
  5. In your food processor pulse together the canned tomatoes, canned green chiles, remaining onion mixture, and last tablespoon of cilantro. Salt to taste.
  6. In a round baking dish spoon a small amount of the canned tomato mixture into the bottom, just enough to create a thin layer. Assemble the remaining layers in the following order: 1 corn tortilla, black beans, 1/4 cup of monterrey jack cheese, 1 corn tortilla, all of the chicken, 1 corn tortilla, several tablespoons of the canned tomato mixture (there will be some leftover).
  7. Scatter the remaining 1/4 cup of monterrey jack cheese and the 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese over the top and bake for 30 minutes.
Calories
  1. 349
Notes
  1. I had some of the canned tomato salsa mixture leftover and didn’t take that into account when calculating the calories, so it’s actually a little less than is shown here.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/


Black Beans w/ Jalapeno Cheddar Polenta

   

When I asked Jah what he wanted for dinner last night he immediately said, “Mexican food.” Now this entree may not be exactly what you think of when you conjure up images of Mexican food, but it definitely has enough Southwestern flair to get the job done. Jah’s bowl was served with the beans (and their liquid) over the polenta, which he then stirred into a tasty (yet unattractive) slurry. I preferred to use a slotted spoon to eat the two things side-by-side. This way I feel really gives the polenta the attention it deserves and doesn’t drown out the subtle jalapeno flavor with bean juice. In the end we both decided that draining the beans is the way to go, but if you’re a slurry person by all means and your bean liquid and stir away. :)

 

Jalapeno Cheddar Polenta
Serves 4
A rich polenta side with subtle jalapeno flavor.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 Cup Coarse Grind Cornmeal
  2. 3 Cups Water
  3. 1 Bouillon Cube (I use Not Chick’n)
  4. 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  5. 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  6. 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  7. 1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  8. 1 Jalapeno Pepper, diced (remove seeds for less heat)
  9. 1/4 Cup Milk (I used almond milk)
  10. 1 Teaspoon Butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Using a little bit of your butter, grease the inside of a small baking dish. My dish is approximately 3-4 cups.
  2. There are two ways you can do this. I make my polenta in the rice cooker, which means I dump the water, stock cube, spices, and polenta into my rice cooker and set it for 20 minutes. I come back to give it a good stir and it’s ready to eat. If you don’t have a rice cooker you can do pretty much the same thing on a stovetop by covering your pot. The more traditional way to make polenta is to bring your cooking liquid to a simmer, add your polenta, and stir regularly until it’s thick and yummy (20-30 minutes).
  3. This step is optional: In a small bowl microwave your diced pepper for about 20-30 seconds, just to take a little of the crunch out.
  4. Add your jalapeno, 3/4 of the cheese, and milk to the polenta and stir until combined. Transfer to your small buttered dish, smoothing down the top so it’s relatively flat.
  5. Melt your remaining butter. Sprinkle top of polenta with 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese and drizzle with butter.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, uncovered. Pop the broiler on for a few seconds at the end if you want your cheese more brown and bubbly.
Calories
  1. 244
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/

Seasoned Black Beans
Serves 6
Make simple canned beans taste homemade with a few tasty additions.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 Cans Low Sodium Black Beans
  2. 1 Can Diced Tomatoes with Chiles, drained
  3. 1/2 Onion, diced
  4. 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder (or mince a clove of garlic)
  5. 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  6. 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Cilantro
  7. 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  8. 1 Bay Leaf
  9. 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  10. 12 Reduced Salt Green Olives, sliced
  11. 1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan and cook your onions (and garlic if applicable) until slightly translucent.
  2. Add canned beans, tomatoes, olives, and all seasonings. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in fresh cilantro. Add a squeeze of fresh lime if you like.
Calories
  1. 175
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/