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


Hot Chai Apple Cider

   

Have you ever been struck by inspiration? A moment of genius that left you wanting to gloat to everyone in your path? It could be the simplest of ideas, but you still can’t help but think to yourself, “MY GOD I AM BRILLIANT!” That’s pretty much how I felt whenever I made this drink. The funny thing is that it wouldn’t surprise me if people had been doing this forever and I just never knew. It’s so much more rewarding to arrive at a solution on your own though, isn’t it? But seriously, I was so excited about this that you would think I had discovered antibiotics or something. Want a hot apple cider? Want a cozy, spicy chai? WHY NOT BOTH?

 Hot Chai Apple Cider

 

Oh and by the way, I decided I’m going to start drawing monsters into my pictures. In case you were wondering what the heck that was all about. Whenever I first started this blog and set the zombie eared bunny as my logo, a few people suggested I incorporate more of my monster doodles into the posts. At the time I felt like I didn’t want to add another layer of work to the already intimidating task of managing a food blog for the first time. The concept faded with time and eventually I forgot about it altogether, until my friend Chris suggested that I put a small comic strip into each of my blog posts. While I don’t have a talent for writing clever stories in the span of three frames, I thought that going back to the idea of putting a monster into each post might be fun after all. It seemed even more fun to have them interacting with the food in some way. I did a couple of test images (I have another post coming in a couple of days) and it ended up being really enjoyable to do. Being able to fuse two of my hobbies in a playful manner is pretty exciting for me, so I hope people are into it!

As for this drink – it’s just a simple way to heat up a single mug of warm, spiced apple cider when you feel like cozying up on a chilly night. Stir in a spoonful of caramel and top with whipped cream for level 2 comfort. Forgo the whipped cream and add a touch of rum for level 4 comfort, because rum skips right on past level 3.

Hot Chai Apple Cider

Hot Chai Apple Cider
Serves 1
An easy way to prepare a single serving of spiced apple cider on a chilly night.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
3 min
Total Time
8 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
3 min
Total Time
8 min
Ingredients
  1. 8oz apple cider
  2. 1 chai tea bag (you may want to use decaf if you’re making this later in the evening)
  3. Small slice of orange or lemon peel, optional
  4. Caramel, optional
  5. Whipped cream, optional
Instructions
  1. Put cider into microwave safe mug (my mug actually holds 2 cups of fluid so I doubled the recipe) and heat on high for about 3 minutes or until piping hot.
  2. Add teabag to mug, add citrus peel if you’re using it, cover, and allow to steep for as long as you prefer. I left mine for 5 minutes because I wanted to incorporate as much spice flavor as possible.
  3. If desired stir in caramel or rum, and topped with whipped cream.
Calories
  1. 120
Notes
  1. Calorie count is for 1 cup of cider with tea. Does not include caramel or whipped cream.
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/

Hot Chai Apple Cider


Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Slaw

   

I feel like I’m a bit overdue for a “healthy” post, especially since I consider healthy eating to be an important part of my life. Don’t get me wrong… I still love a raunchy slice of floppy, foldable cheese pizza or a piece of decadent chocolate mousse cake, but I try to consume those things in moderation by limiting them to the weekends. On weeknights I put more effort into restricting my calories and minding my intake of fat, carbs, protein, fiber, etc. I suppose one thing that is funny about this post is that this slaw was made as part of a labor day meal which consisted of spicy vegetarian sausages stuffed into hoagie rolls with tomato sauce and melted cheese and a side of cheddar dill mashed potatoes. Aaaand I didn’t even eat the slaw. Is it ok for me to admit that? I actually don’t like cole slaw at all, but that doesn’t stop me from making it for the people that do. I relied on my boyfriend and best friend to tell me whether or not this was a worthy Gouda Monster recipe and they both agreed it was a winner. Jah even whipped up another batch for himself one night and enjoyed it just as much the second time.

 

Sweet 'n' Spicy Slaw

I used Veganaise when preparing this but you could certainly use any mayo that you prefer. Opting for a light mayonnaise will drop the calories to around 80 per serving. Of course you can always adjust the amount of heat by cutting back on the hot sauce. The creaminess of the mayo along with the sweetness of the carrots and apples cuts through some of the harshness of the spice, but people have vastly different tolerance levels for that sort of thing. If you’re concerned about it I would recommend adding the hot sauce little by little as it is always easy to add more, but once it’s in there you can’t take it out. Another substitution that would probably work fine is the use of cabbage in place of the baby bok choy. I opted for bok choy mostly because of its small size. We don’t use a lot of cabbage around here and I knew there would be a lot leftover that goes to waste. With the baby bok choy I was able to cut up almost the entire thing for the slaw and not worry about having anything leftover to wilt away in the fridge. Whatever you decide to do you’ll only be out about 10 minutes of your time for this super easy side.

Sweet 'n' Spicy Slaw

Sweet 'n' Spicy Slaw
Serves 4
A crisp slaw of carrots, green apple, and boy choy with a little bit of kick.
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 granny smith apple, cut into matchsticks
  2. 1 cup shredded carrots
  3. 1 baby bok choy, julienned (I only used about 3/4 of it, leaving out the greenest part of the leaves so they wouldn’t get soggy)
  4. Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  5. 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  6. 1 teaspoon English mustard
  7. 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  8. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  9. 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  10. 1 teaspoon paprika
  11. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  12. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  13. 4 tablespoons Veganaise (or other mayo of choice)
Instructions
  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing (everything but the veggies and apple) until creamy and smooth.
  2. Fold the carrots, bok choy, and granny smith apple into the dressing until well coated.
Calories
  1. 136
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/

Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Slaw


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
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/

Black Bean Soup & Chili Lime Tortilla Chips

   

So easy to make I’m embarrassed to post it. Leave out the cream (or opt for a nondairy alternative) and cheese garnish for a tasty vegan entree.

 

Black Bean Soup & Chili Lime Tortilla Chips
Serves 3
A very easy and satisfying meal that is also low calorie at 350 per portion, including the chips.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. For the soup:

  2. 1 Can Black Beans
  3. 1 Cup Canned Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  4. 1 Jalapeno diced
  5. ¼ Onion diced
  6. 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  7. ½-1 Cup Water
  8. 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  9. 1 Bay Leaf
  10. 1 Tablespoon Heavy Cream
  11. 1 ½ Ounces Queso Fresco
  12. Green Onion diced, for garnish

  13. For the chips:

  14. 6 Corn Tortillas
  15. 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  16. 2 Tablespoon Lime Juice
  17. Salt & Chili Powder to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Using a nonstick pot cook the onion and jalapeno until onions start to become translucent.
  3. Whisk together the lime juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Brush over the tortillas (both sides) and cut them into 8 segments.
  4. Add canned beans, tomatoes, and ½-1 cup of water depending on how thick you want your soup. Add the seasonings (including any others you might like). Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low.
  5. Line the chips on a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake for around 8 minutes, flip them over, and bake for another 8 minutes. They should be super crispy. If not just bake a little longer until they are done.
  6. When they come out of the oven you can spray them with a light mist of cooking spray to give the seasoning salt something to stick to. Sprinkle with the salt and chili powder.
  7. Turn the heat off of the soup and add in one tablespoon of cream. Feel free to use sour cream, cream cheese, or nothing at all – but I like the added richness. There will be some leftover oil and lime juice from the tortilla chips, dump that into the soup as well. Remove the bay leaf. Stick an immersion blender in the pan or transfer about half the soup to a blender and pulse. The point is to get part of the soup smooth and creamy while still leaving some remaining beans and chunks of tomato for texture.
  8. Serve the soup (about 1/3 of the pot is a serving but you could probably stretch it to ¼ with more water) topped with some sliced green onion and ½ ounce of queso fresco cheese. Have your tortilla chips on the side.
Calories
  1. 350
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/

Veggie Burger

   

It was National Cheeseburger Day, and just because we’re vegetarian didn’t mean we wanted to miss out! Jah, a self proclaimed connoisseur of veggie burgers said this was the best one he’d ever eaten. That is not a compliment I take lightly because I know how much that guy digs veggie burgers. I had some leftover beans from the recipe that I used in a tasty three bean dip a couple of days later. That recipe is coming soon as well – but in the mean time I seriously suggest giving these homemade burger patties a try. It’s totally worth topping with the smoked gouda as well, especially if you’re a gouda monster like me. :)

 

Veggie Burger w/ Smoked Gouda & Green Bean “Fries”
Serves 4
This veggie burger turned out to be the best I’d ever eaten, and I’ve eaten a lot of them!
Print
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. For the patty:

  2. 1 Cup Reduced Sodium Black Beans, rinsed and drained
  3. ¾ Cup Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
  4. ½ Cup Ground Beef Style Tofurky
  5. ¼ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  6. 1/8 Cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  7. ¼ Cup Rolled Oats, dry
  8. 1 Jalapeno Pepper, diced (remove seeds for milder flavor)
  9. ½ Purple Onion, diced
  10. 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  11. 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
  12. ½ Teaspoon Dried Cilantro
  13. 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  14. 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  15. 1 Teaspoon Braggs (could use soy sauce if you don’t have any)
  16. 1 Teaspoon Ener-g Egg Replacer (corn starch would be fine if you don’t have it)
  17. Salt & Pepper, to taste

  18. For assembly:

  19. 4 Teaspoons Butter
  20. 4 Ounces Smoked Gouda
  21. 4 Whole Grain Hamburger Buns, toasted
  22. 8 Strips Morningstar Farms Veggie Bacon
  23. Sliced Tomato & Lettuce, enough for topping

  24. For the "fries":

  25. 4 Cups Fresh Green Beans, washed, dried, and ends removed
  26. 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  27. Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Heat olive oil in nonstick skillet and cook the jalapeno, onion, and garlic until translucent.
  3. In a food processor combine all patty ingredients except for ¼ cup of the black beans and ¼ cup of the kidney beans. Pulse until mixture comes together and is well blended. If you like you can add some salt or additional dried seasonings at this point.
  4. Add the remaining beans and pulse just a couple of times – you want them to be mostly whole.
  5. Begin forming the patties with your hands. You should have enough of the mixture to make four. Place on a plate, cover, and refrigerate while you prepare the green beans.
  6. In a large bowl toss the green beans with olive oil and seasonings until well coated. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring around occasionally. They should be crispy and slightly caramelized.
  7. While the green beans are baking, cook your veggie bacon strips in a nonstick skillet until hot and slightly crispy. Cut in half and set aside.
  8. On medium high heat melt one teaspoon of butter. When hot, place your burger patty on the skillet and cover. Let sear for about 3 minutes and flip to the other side, making sure to get any buttery goodness off the pan and onto your patty. Cook the other side for another 3-4 minutes. Repeat process for other 3 patties.
  9. Place patties on cookie sheet (I used the same one I prepared the beans on after transferring the beans to a plate) and top each burger with 4 bacon strip halves plus 1 ounce of smoked gouda. Broil for a couple of minutes until cheese is hot and bubbly.
  10. Assemble burgers with lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard, or whatever else floats your hamburgery boat! Enjoy with green bean “fries”.
Calories
  1. 474
Gouda Monster http://www.goudamonster.com/