Creamy guacamole and hot salsa

Our family likes avocado everything.  On toast, in soups, in salads,  in sandwiches…  to us everything avocado is delightful and delicious.  One thing that is NOT delightful for my kids is raw onion, so chunky guacamole does not go over well with them, even though they love avocado.  Once I started making guacamole in the food processor to achieve a super smooth and creamy guacamole, my kids devoured it.  Fine with me too, no chopping or dicing, throw everything into the food processor, and it’s done.  What’s not to love about that?!

The salsa recipe is one that my father-in-law came up with.  Yes, I have a father-in-law that can cook like no other.  Having dinner at my in-laws is always a big treat.  Since being married to my husband, I have developed my taste for hot and spicy foods.  And this salsa is hot.  If you prefer a more mild salsa, leave out the jalapeños, and reduce the amount of crushed red pepper and cayanne pepper.  While I often enjoy using fresh herbs, this recipe actually works better with dried parsley and cilantro.  The dried herbs soak up the crushed tomatoes and help to thicken up the salsa.   I love this salsa because it doesn’t get watery, it’s not too sweet, and it has so much flavor.  It’s possible to eat the salsa immediately after making it, but the texture and flavors really develop after sitting overnight.  This keeps well for a couple weeks when stored in the refrigerator.

Creamy Guacamole
 
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • ¼ medium onion (about ⅓ cup)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, lightly packed
  • 2-3 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Scoop flesh out of the avocados and put into a food processor, along with remaining ingredients.
  2. Process for one minute, or until guacamole reaches desired consistency.

Hot Salsa
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion
  • 3-4 jalapeños, seeds removed
  • 1 32 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
Instructions
  1. Use a food processor to finely chop the onions. Transfer to a large bowl, and then use the food processor to finely chop the jalapeños. Add the jalapeños to the onions.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir together thoroughly. Transfer to storage containers and allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator.

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Lemon Chia Seed Mufffins

Today it was cloudy and rainy and the forecast for the entire week is…. cloudy and rainy.  So I made Honey Lemon Chia Seed Muffins!  Nothing like a little lemon to brighten up a cloudy day.  These whole grain muffins are made with spelt flour, sweetened with honey, and contain omega-3-rich chia seeds.  Spelt flour is officially part of the wheat family, but it has a higher protein content and is more easily digested than the more common wheat.  (Although it does contain gluten and is not gluten-free.)  These spelt muffins are tender and moist and best eaten warm out of the oven.

Honey Lemon Chia Seed Muffins
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ½ cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Grease or line 12 muffins cups.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, chia seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl, lightly whisk together the eggs. Add the yogurt, honey, melted butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just incorporated, being careful not to overmix.
  5. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Notes
inspired by Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins from Lorna Sass's Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
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Spinach and Prosciutto Stuffed Shells

It’s amazing how the quality of ingredients used can completely change the way a dish tastes.  There is a world of difference between stuffed shells made with fresh whole milk ricotta without any added gums or stabilizers and those made with ricotta packed with added stabilizers.  The ricotta in these stuffed shells lends to a creamy and slighty sweet dish with the prosciutto balancing the sweetness with its salty flavor.  The prosciutto transforms this meal into one that is worthy of serving to company and it is perfect for making ahead of time and simply putting in the oven as guests arrive.  Enjoy!

Spinach and Prosciutto Stuffed Shells

Spinach and Prosciutto Stuffed Shells
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • For the shells:
  • 15 oz. whole milk ricotta
  • 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 20 pasta shells
  • extra mozzarella and parmesan for sprinkling on top

  • For the sauce:
  • 1 14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta shells in salted boiling water according to package directions.
  2. Cook the spinach in boiling water for 1-2 minutes until wilted. Drain and squeeze excess water out and roughly chop spinach.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta, spinach, mozzarella, parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper until well blended. Set aside.
  4. In another medium bowl, mix the stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and salt.
  5. In a 9x13 baking dish, spread a thin layer of the tomato mixture to cover the bottom of the pan.
  6. Divide the ricotta filling among the stuffed shells, about 1½ - 2 tablespoons per shell. Arrange the shells neatly in the baking pan.
  7. Spoon remaining tomato mixture over the shells and sprinkle with extra mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  8. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 400. Uncover and continue baking for another 15 minutes, until cheese is melted.
Notes
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