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.
Print
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.
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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.
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Spicy Avocado Pizza


Cilantro Lime Potatoes

   

When you break down the ingredients in your average breakfast burrito, potatoes are pretty common – especially for vegetarians. While they are delicious in the morning, adding potatoes to your filling options on taco night is just as good. These potatoes roast unattended while you dance around in your living room or top your previous record time for bathing a cat. By the time you’re done cleaning your wounds and applying bandages you just need to give them a quick stir and then go spend another few minutes practicing on the oboe. It’s really quite simple to make, and you have a complete, no fuss dinner when you stuff them into a couple of warm tortillas with canned black beans, fresh avocado, and (if you eat dairy) some crumbled queso fresco.

Cilantro Lime Potatoes

Whenever I buy canned black beans I like to tweak the seasoning to suit my tastes. It almost always involves a bit of oregano, ground cumin, garlic, and chili powder. I will also stir in a tablespoon of tomato paste for an extra punch of flavor. If you want your beans to have a sort of slow cooked, smoky, “meaty” flavor – bacon salt is an awesome (vegetarian friendly) way to accomplish this. I love adding a touch of bacon salt to my bean recipes; it’s not enough to taste bacony but it provides a really nice savory undertone.

Cilantro Lime Potatoes

This is a smaller yield recipe that is ideal for 3-4 people (depending on the other ingredients going into your tacos) but it is easily doubled to accommodate more. Cilantro haters need not fear – this would work nicely with whatever herbs you enjoy. Lemon and parsley would be a bright, fresh flavor for a weeknight side dish if you don’t feel like getting all Southwesterny. And of course you can always eat them for breakfast!

Cilantro Lime Potatoes

Cilantro Lime Potatoes
Serves 3
Tender potatoes roasted in a dressing of fresh cilantro and lime.
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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 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  3. 1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
  4. 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  5. Pinch of white sugar (maybe 1/8 of a teaspoon, just to cut the tartness of the lime a little)
  6. 1lb potatoes, diced (I used Yukon gold)
  7. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  8. 1 clove garlic, minced
  9. 1/4 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Whisk together 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, lime juice, pepper, cilantro, and sugar. Set aside.
  3. On a cutting board, sprinkle salt over minced garlic and scrape it down with the flat side of a broad knife. Continue crushing the garlic with the salt to make a paste.
  4. Whisk garlic paste together with the teaspoon of olive oil and toss with your diced potatoes.
  5. Arrange potatoes on a parchment lined cookie sheet and transfer to the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Toss potatoes with the prepared dressing and transfer to the oven for another 8-10 minutes.
  7. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
  8. Serve with warm corn or flour tortillas, black beans, fresh avocado, and queso fresco.
Calories
  1. 188
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Cilantro Lime Potatoes


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.
Print
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.
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Taco Pizza

 

 

 


Small Batch Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins

   

Whether you’re cooking for a small number of people or you’re just wanting to limit carb-centric indulgences in the kitchen, there are a few reasons why making small batches of baked goods might appeal to you. For me it’s a combination of these two things. I generally prepare food for 2-3 people and if there is a full batch of piping hot muffins on the counter we are going to polish off every last one. I love this recipe, not only for its small yield, but also for the fact that it’s a total cinch to prepare. Toss everything in a food processor, spoon into muffins tins, wait 20 minutes, done.  It’s hard not to love that sort of simplicity, right?

 

I made these muffins with reduced fat cream cheese, but not so much that it lends an intense cheesy flavor to the muffins. It’s more of a textural element that I used in place of butter to keep them fluffy and tender. You could modify the recipe by adding in some shredded sharp cheddar cheese if you’re feeling a jalapeño cheddar vibe. Alternatively, you could omit the jalapeño entirely and have a great, simple cornbread on your hands.  Toss in a little bit of sugar if you prefer a sweeter cornbread.

Small Batch Jalapeño Cornbread
Serves 6
The batter for these flavorful, tender muffins comes together in minutes.
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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. 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup corn meal
  3. 1/4 cup dry polenta (this provides a texture that we enjoy, but you can use all corn meal if you don’t have polenta on hand)
  4. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. 2 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
  7. 2 jalapeño peppers (remove seeds for less heat)
  8. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  9. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  10. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  11. 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  12. 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (you could use regular or soy milk, but it will increase the calorie count slightly)
  13. 1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer dissolved in 2 tablespoons of unsweetened almond milk (or one egg)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Put all dry ingredients + the peppers into a food processor and pulse until the jalapeños are roughly “chopped”. You will pulse the dough a few more times so don’t worry about making it too fine.
  3. Add butter, olive oil, and cream cheese then pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  4. Pour in almond milk and egg replacer and pulse until the dough just comes together. Do not over mix or you may end up with tough muffins.
  5. Spoon the mixture into your muffin tin, making six muffins. It will be thick so you may want to pat it down just a little. I leave it rough for a rustic texture on top (and because I’m lazy).
  6. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until the muffins start to brown slightly at the edges.
Calories
  1. 149
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Southwestern Vegetarian Chili

   

As someone born and raised in Texas it’s sort of in my blood to know a thing or two about chili. Most Texans would consider it blasphemy to put beans in chili, but then again most Texans would consider it blasphemy to be a vegetarian. Neither of those things make much of a difference to me though – I’m not most Texans. :)

Chili is a wonderful one-pot meal that comes together quickly with little effort. It’s low in calories, it’s filling, and it keeps you warm on chilly nights. (Yup – we have chilly nights here!) I actually made this chili less spicy than I normally would. As a general rule I like my dishes to be warm, but nothing so hot as to mask out the other flavors in a dish. In Thai restaurants I’m a “3” kind of girl. With chili though? I want to subtly regret every searing spoonful as it makes my taste buds cry for mercy. If my eyes aren’t watering and my nose isn’t running by the time I’m halfway through the bowl, then it’s just not hot enough. The perfect counter to that level of spicy bliss is the addition of fresh diced celery. Celery is my absolute favorite, must-have topping for chili because of the way it cuts through the heat. The contrast of texture and flavor is wonderful as well. If you’ve never tried it I highly recommend it.

Everyone has their own tolerance levels when it comes to heat so I view this recipe as more of a jumping off point. If you’re a glutton for punishment you can add several additional jalapeños , more pepper sauce, ground cayenne, a habanero – whatever floats your boat. The beauty of chili is that it’s adaptable. And that it’s easy.

 

Southwestern Vegetarian Chili
Serves 3
A simple, one-pot meal that fills you up while staying low in calories.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 teaspoon olive oil
  2. 1/2 onion, diced
  3. 1 clove of garlic, minced
  4. 1-2 jalapeño peppers, diced (remove seeds for less heat)
  5. 1 can diced tomatoes
  6. 1 can black beans, drained
  7. 1/2 of a 12oz package of ground meatless crumbles
  8. 1/2 cup water
  9. 2 tablespoons chili powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  11. 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
  12. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  13. 1 bay leaf
  14. 1 teaspoon pepper sauce
  15. 1 corn tortilla, torn into small pieces
  16. 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a pot and cook the onion, garlic, and pepper until slightly soft and fragrant – about 5 minutes or so.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients (except for the cilantro and corn tortilla) to the pot and bring to a simmer. When simmering, add the corn tortilla pieces. Cover, remove heat, and let cook for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Just before serving stir in the chopped cilantro.
Calories
  1. 283
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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
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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
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