I have some exciting news for you! Well, it’s exciting to me, anyway, and I hope you find it exciting too … Sumptuous Spoonfuls is teaming up with Swiss Diamond International. I will be crafting some recipes for Swiss Diamond International using their cookware. They are not paying me to do this, but they are giving me samples of their cookware to use in developing their recipes.
I was really excited when Swiss Diamond International contacted me, and even more excited after I read about their cookware. I was intrigued by the use of diamonds in cookware. This is from Swiss Diamond’s web site:
- Diamonds are durable - As the hardest material known to man, diamonds give the coating additional strength and resilience.
- Diamonds are a better heat conductor than metal - Four times more conductive than copper, diamonds create even heat distribution across the pan’s surface. Diamonds also allow the pan to brown food like stainless steel, creating a “fond” that can be used for gravy – or easily washed away with warm soapy water.
- Diamonds are naturally nonstick - One of the most valuable properties of diamonds in a nonstick coating is that very little sticks to them. Coupled with their durability, this creates a lifetime of superior performance.
So I was curious to see if it really works … and I have to say I absolutely love these pans! They cook like a dream … the heat distributes across the pan so well. The food cooks faster and so evenly. And nothing sticks to the pan … with no cooking spray or butter. I tried some of the stickiest, most difficult things (like fried rice) and nothing stuck. And they’re so easy to clean too. (By the way, while Swiss Diamond did give me the pans, they did not pay me to say that … this is my honest experience.) I’m curious to see how well they retain that magic nonstick surface … I guess time will tell.
For this recipe, I used the crepe/omelet pan. This little pan is by far my favorite so far. It has a low lip so that it’s easy to flip crepes, omelets, and pancakes. (Even the IHOP-style pancakes that have always been a struggle for me to flip … I found I can even make giant pancakes – bigger than IHOP’s! – in this pan and they cook and flip SO nicely.) Anyway, I was craving a quesadilla the other day and thought this pan would be perfect for that. I wanted to try making it without any oil or cooking spray and see if the tortilla got properly crisped and browned on both sides. And you know what? It did.
You don’t have to have a crepe / omelet pan to make these quesadillas … any frying pan will do. But it sure makes cooking a pleasure.
Chipotle Black Bean Quesadilla with Avocado Cream
For each quesadilla:
- 1/2 of a ripe avocado
- 1 oz. light cream cheese
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped onion
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
- juice from 1/4 – 1/2 of a fresh lime
- 1 – 2 teaspoons plain nonfat yogurt (optional)
- 2 tortillas that fit the size of your pan. I used some whole wheat “wraps” that were a little smaller than my crepe pan.
- Refried black beans (homemade or canned)
- About a Tablespoon of finely chopped onion
- About a Tablespoon of finely chopped chipotle pepper (a jalapeno roasted on the grill would also work)
- About 1/2 oz. of finely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- For serving: your favorite salsa. A fire-roasted salsa is especially nice with this quesadilla!
- First, make the Avocado cream by mashing the avocado in a bowl, then mash in the cream cheese, onion, garlic and lime juice and stir until everything is mixed well and the mixture is fairly smooth. Add a teaspoon or two of plain nonfat yogurt if you like to get it to a nice spreadable consistency.
- Take one tortilla and spread it with a layer of refried black beans, then spread on a layer of avocado cream. Sprinkle the onion and chipotle pepper over, then sprinkle evenly with the shredded cheddar and top it all off with the 2nd tortilla.
- Heat your pan over medium heat. If your pan needs it, spray the pan with cooking spray, then slide the quesadilla into the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, then check to see if the bottom is nicely browned and crisp. Once it’s brown, flip the quesadilla over with a spatula and cook until it’s brown on the other side and the cheese is melted. (The bottom half is crisp by now so the quesadilla is fairly easy to flip, but if you are making a large quesadilla, you may need to slide the quesadilla onto a cutting board and then flip it over back into the pan.)
- Slide the quesadilla onto a cutting board, cut into wedges, and serve with the salsa.
If you would like to purchase Swiss Diamond cookware, visit http://www.swissdiamond.us/.
The great thing about being a food blogger is sometimes you get to have cake for breakfast. Which is a very good thing when you stayed up too late baking zucchini cakes to take along to your parents’ house for the 50th wedding anniversary party and didn’t have dinner and woke up STARVING.
I just wanted to use up the last of my zucchini before I visit my parents’ garden again. It is always overflowing with good vegetables this time of year. Besides, we are going to have lots of extra mouths to feed this weekend and it will be good to have something relatively healthy and totally delicious to snack on. The last big zucchini was big enough to make two cakes, so I made a chocolate one and this beautiful zucchini lime cake that my sweet friend Dor from La Difference Catering made when her house was overflowing with courgettes. She calls them courgettes. I think that’s a marvelously elegant word! Still I refer to them as zucchini. That’s just what we call those big green squash things here in the midwest US.
By the way, today we are on the letter Z in the A-Z Health Challenge on facebook! We made it! I have to thank all the wonderful bloggers who contributed their recipes, tips and knowledge along the way. That’s what made it so very fun. I will do a wrapup post with all the letters and their health benefits once this anniversary party is over.
For today, Z is for Zucchini! Let’s eat cake!
Zucchini Lime Cake with Pistachios
Slightly adapted from La Difference Catering. I made just a small amount of frosting because I like it light on the frosting, so if you want a heavily frosted cake, you will need to make extra frosting.
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 2 Tablespoons golden rum
- 1 3/4 cup finely shredded zucchini
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/2 cup lowfat or nonfat plain yogurt
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 oz. light cream cheese
- zest of 1 lime
- juice of 1/2 lime
- Topping: a few Tablespoons of chopped roasted pistachios
- Set the raisins in the small bowl, pour the rum over and let them soak for a good while (an hour or so) until they plump up good.
- Mix the wet ingredients.
- Add the dry ingredients and stir it all together. Stir in the raisins and rum.
- Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray, pour in the batter and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Mix up the powdered sugar with the cream cheese till smooth, then add the lime zest and juice. Once the cake is cool, frost it. Just before serving, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of chopped pistachios.
My friend gave me some cooked bulgur when we went camping together … in a way, I wonder if she gave it to me just so she could see what I would do with it. I brought it home. It sat in the fridge till I was nearly sure it must have gone bad already … and then, suddenly, I was craving Mexican food. Something with black beans and jalapenos and tomatoes and cilantro and onions. And then it occurred to me what to do with the bulgur: give it a KICK! I made this salad one day last week and munched, munched, munched all afternoon.
Last weekend my friend came up to my parents’ place for the first time EVER, with her hubby and youngest son. We ate antelope & venison that my dad cooked on the grill, dad’s garden potatoes mixed with peppers, spices and cheese and my tarragon roasted vegetables. Then the next day we munched on Dad’s fabulous fresh garden melons. I fed them caramel peach bread pudding, chocolate zucchini cake, and sandwiches made from the roasted veggies and grilled meat (yes, in that order).
And after we had eaten all of that, I remembered the bulgur salad. Everyone was stuffed, but I made my friend taste a bite of it anyway, since she had given me the bulgur. She loved it, so I sent it home with her.
I played around a little with stuffing a couple tomatoes with the salad for a pretty presentation … what do you think? (Vegies in the background are stray bounty from my mom & dad’s garden … it’s everywhere!)
Bulgur Black Bean Salad with Fresh Tomato & Avocado
This is a hearty, spicy, flavorful salad that you could serve as a meal all by itself.
- 1 1/2 cups cooked bulgur
- 3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
- 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 or 2 medium fresh garden tomatoes, chopped
- Juice of 1/2 lime
- 1/2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- Fresh cilantro or parsley
- 1 Tablespoon chopped jalapeno (use more or less jalapeno according to how hot & spicy you like it)
- 1/2 – 1 whole avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped (I only had about 1/2 an avocado, but I think the salad would be tastier with more!)
- Garnish: cilantro or parsley leaves and a slice of fresh lime
- Toss together the cooked bulgur, onion, black beans, and tomatoes in a bowl and set aside.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, cumin, honey, and cilantro (or parsley) until well blended. Gently fold the avocado pieces into the dressing to coat. (This will help keep the avocado from turning black.)
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to mix. Garnish with a twisted slice of lime and some cilantro (or parsley) just before serving.
This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous Friday.
I started writing tonight and found myself pouring out my heart about what it feels like, as a divorced woman, planning my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary … thoughts on what I wish I had known when I was younger … what I hope my kids will know and what I STILL haven’t figured out yet … and all sorts of things about love and life and being true to yourself and finding the right person …
… but you probably don’t want to hear all that stuff. You came here for the recipe. It is a recipe I stumbled across because of the A-Z Health Challenge I’m doing on facebook … the other day we talked about the health benefits of lime and everyone was sharing their lime recipes and this Maple Lavender Limeade was one of them. Maple Lavender Limeade … doesn’t that sound like such a lovely thing to drink? I grew lavender this year. I bought this teeny plant and it has been growing … It hasn’t bloomed yet, so I have just been waiting … but … hey, here is something I could use it for now!
Oh I had to try it! … I really really really MEANT to leave the recipe alone, but as I finished up the syrup part, I couldn’t help but think ooh, what if we did this with bubbles? … and then, well, hey, it’s Friday, it needs a little alcohol and I have this pretty rose vodka … so I had to add it … so that’s my story of how the Lavender Lime Rose Fizz came to be
… and then I went out for dinner with my two teenagers and we had a nice waiter and ate well and everything was so lovely that my son urged me to give him an extra nice tip … so I did.
Lavender Lime Rose Fizz
Adapted from Project Healthy Ever After. You can use rosewater if you don’t want the alcohol … or if you’re making this for young ones who are not ready for adult beverages yet. Or leave out the roses and just make limeade. It’s really wonderful just like that too.
For the lavender lime syrup:
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup Grade A maple syrup
- 2 sprigs of fresh lavender (or 1 1/2 heaping tsp. of dried culinary lavender)
- 1 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice (for me, that was about 7 limes)
Put the water and maple syrup in a pan and bring it to boiling. Remove from heat, add the lavender, then cover it up and let it steep for at least 15 minutes. Let it cool completely, then add the limes. Use immediately or funnel into a bottle and store in the fridge for future use.
To make each drink:
- Lime wedges (use the ones you squeezed for the syrup!)
- Club soda
- 1/4 cup lavender lime syrup
- 2 Tablespoons rose vodka (or rosewater for a non-alcoholic drink)
Stick a wedge of lime in the bottom of a tall glass, add ice & lime wedges to fill it. Pour in a splash of club soda on the bottom, then the lavender lime syrup and the rose vodka or rosewater. Top with club soda, then taste it. Add more of the lime syrup and/or maple syrup to suit your tastes. Garnish with a fresh organic rose, if you have one, or a slice of lime if a culinary rose isn’t available.
Why does the idea of smashing a chickpea sound so appealing?
I think it’s for the same reason that hitting something hard at TaeKwonDo feels good. It’s all those little things in life that just make you angry that you will never mention to the person that is bugging you because you’re just too nice to say it or you don’t want to make waves. It’s often better left unsaid … so much better to walk away, not say anything, or let that person find their own truth, their own karma. But still there are these little bits of anger that build up inside of you and you need to let it out somehow.
For me, yoga helps, but it’s not enough. I need to really smash something, something that isn’t going to care if I hurt it. Ah, and even better if I get to eat it in the end!
Come here, little chickpeas! I will smash you into a sandwich … oh and you too, little avocado!
… but seriously, though, this is quite a delicious sandwich. And if you can relieve a few frustrations in the process, that’s even better.
Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Salad Sandwich
Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod. Makes 2 – 3 sandwiches.
- 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
- 2 Tablespoons sundried tomato ranch dressing (recipe here - or use regular ranch and add a couple finely chopped sundried tomatoes to the mixture)
- 1 tablespoon sweet onion, chopped fine
- Cilantro (a few sprigs if you can gather it … mine is so pathetic all I can get is a few leaves … sigh. )
- 1/2 an avocado
- juice of a wedge of lime
- 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
- lettuce leaves, onion, tomato, whatever you like to put on a sandwich
- In a bowl, using a fork or potato masher, smash the chickpeas and avocado together. Let out your frustrations … really, it’s ok.
- Add in the cilantro, onion, and squeeze the lime over top. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Toast your bread, spread both sides with the smashed chickpea/avocado mixture, then put your favorite sandwich toppings inside.
- Enjoy every bite!
After the rainbow fruit kebabs we made for my daughter’s birthday, my daughter and I thought it would be fun to do a 4th of July version with red, white and blue. We were having trouble figuring out what to use for the white, though. Are there white fruits? I suppose you could use apples or bananas … at the time, we couldn’t think of any … so we ended up going with angel food cake for the white … you could also use marshmallows.
But then if you have cake, you want a dipping sauce, right? Something wonderful to dip it in or to drizzle over it to make it more dessert-like.
Three options occurred to me:
- Whipped cream: so you have a berry shortcake on a stick
- Strawberry (or blueberry) yogurt: a healthier option for dipping. You could even mix your own using plain yogurt and crushed strawberries and honey
- Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Sauce: oh yeah! the take-it-over-the-top, make-it-flippin-amazing option (this was my favorite … can you tell? The way the sauce soaks into the cake and contrasts with the fruit is just oh so wonderful.)
I am guessing you probably don’t need a recipe for #1 and #2, so I’ll just give you the recipe for #3. These 4th of July kebabs are a great project to do with kids … it’s a good pattern recognition exercise for little ones.
Red, White & Blue Fruit Kebabs with Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Sauce
The sauce is, incidentally, the very same dressing I used on my Red, White & Blueberry Salad.
- Angel Food Cake, cut into squares
- Strawberries, washed and cut in half
- Wooden skewer sticks
for the dipping sauce:
- 1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
- 4 teaspoons of honey
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- Juice of 1/2 lime
In a small bowl, whisk all of the sauce ingredients together until they are well mixed. Keep any leftover sauce in a covered container in the fridge.
Skewer the fruit and cake on the wooden skewers to make a red, white and blue pattern. My daughter says the way to do it is to start with blueberries, then cake, then a strawberry so that you end up with a strawberry on top.
Serve with dipping sauces of your choice.
with Goat Cheese, Pinons, and a Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Dressing
My foodie friend Justine over at Full Belly Sisters has been making red, white and blue foods like crazy lately … which got me thinking … I need to make a red, white and blue salad! It’s been in my head for a week, waiting to come to life. I’m so glad I finally took time to make it today (even though my son was upset with me for making something for myself since we had agreed to go out for lunch today … hey, it’s just a salad!)
Besides being just the right colors for the 4th of July, it’s got just the right mix of sweet, creamy, tangy and crunchy to make a super-delicious salad. Tangy goat cheese pairs so well with berries, sweet onions kick up the flavor just slightly, the pinons add a soft crunch and a slight sweet nutty flavor, and the lime and ginger yogurt dressing takes it over the top.
And you know what else? Before eating this salad, I felt tired and run down. But AFTER eating this delectable salad, my body felt so refreshed, revived, ready to go! Besides, all those gorgeous colors are a feast for the eyes …
Red, White & Blueberry Salad
with Goat Cheese, Pinons, and a Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Dressing
- Mixed Greens
- Fresh Strawberries, washed and sliced
- Fresh Sweet Blueberries, washed
- Sweet onion, sliced and roughly chopped
- Pinon nuts and/or almond slices, lightly toasted
- Goat cheese crumbles
- Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Salad Dressing (recipe below0
Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Salad Dressing
- 1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
- 4 teaspoons of honey
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- Juice of 1/2 lime
In a small bowl, whisk all of the ingredients together until they are well mixed. Keep any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.
By the way, Justine at Full Belly Sisters made a Red, White & Blue Salad too! Go check out her version.
It’s time for the Crazy Cooking Challenge and this month we are all making smoothies. The assignment is to find another blogger’s smoothie recipe, make it, and blog about it.
I chose this watermelon smoothie (slushie?) from the Full Belly Sisters because as some of you who follow me on facebook know, I recently bought a watermelon that was less then stellar. To put it bluntly, it sucked. I asked my facebook friends what to do with it and I had such an amazing response! There were some really great ideas there, and this just happened to be one of them. I also just so happen to have some chia seeds that I won from Lauren at Nutri-Savvy and Ruth’s Foods.
Justine used mint in her slushie, and I have a tiny bit of mint that I planted, but it’s just starting and doesn’t have many leaves yet, so I decided to use some of the basil instead, since that plant ALWAYS needs trimming–and besides, basil is a member of the mint family and it goes very well with watermelon. The other change I made to the recipe was I had to add some liquid because my blender did NOT want to blend up the watermelon cubes “dry”. If you have one of those juicer kind of blenders, perhaps you won’t need any extra liquid, but mine was NOT budging without adding some liquid. I added it 1/4 cup at a time, till it was liquid enough to drink through a straw. It was still plenty thick, though, as you can see.
Watermelon Basil Chia Smoothie
- 4 cups cubed watermelon, frozen
- about 5 or 6 basil leaves
- 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
- juice of one lime
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup of juice (I used apple cherry juice)
- 1/4 cup of culinary rosewater (or you can substitute water or juice)
- Thin watermelon slices and basil leaves, for garnish
Put the watermelon, basil, chia, lime juice, and salt in a blender. Add 1/4 cup of juice and try blending. Add juice (or rosewater) 1/4 cup at a time until the smoothie blends, then add more as needed to get the smoothie to the thickness that you like.
If you drink the whole thing yourself, it will be like eating a meal. You will be full for a long while. The chia seeds add fiber, calcium and protein, so they give this drink a lot of “staying power”, and with all the nutritional benefits of the watermelon and the juice, you will be getting a lot of the vitamins, water, and nutrients that your body needs. Not to mention that it’s quite refreshing to drink this sweet slushie on a hot summer day.
This post is for the Crazy Cooking Challenge
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Click here to see all the other awesome smoothies in the Crazy Cooking Challenge …
This recipe was also shared at I’m Lovin’ It.
with honey and lime and homemade maple cranberry granola …
The great thing about having granola in the house is you can make pretty parfaits with it. All you need is some fruit and some yogurt and a pretty glass to put it in. It can be for breakfast or dessert or even a mid-day snack. A little something pretty to dress up your day and make you feel good inside.
Pineapple Peach Yogurt Parfait
- 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt (regular or Greek-style … whatever you prefer)
- 2 – 4 teaspoons honey
- sprinkle of nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon or so of vanilla
- Juice and zest of 1/4 of a lime
- Pineapple chunks
- Peach slices
- Granola (I used my maple cranberry granola: recipe here)
Mix the yogurt, honey, vanilla and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Layer fruit, yogurt, and granola in a pretty glass. I did fruit, then yogurt, then granola, then repeated, ending with granola on top and garnished with a couple chunks of fruit and a slice of lime.
and a minted honey lime yogurt dressing
This is a super simple salad, but these flavors together are just divine!
Pineapple Arugula Salad with Toasted Walnuts & Goat Cheese
- Spinach Arugula Mix
- Fresh pineapple chunks
- Goat cheese crumbles
- Walnuts, toasted
Cover the plate/bowl with spinach & arugula. Arrange the other ingredients on top and drizzle with the honey lime yogurt dressing.
Minted Honey Lime Yogurt Salad Dressing
- 1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried mint leaves (or if you have fresh, even better!)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- Juice and zest from 1/2 a lime
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This recipe was shared at Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Midweek Fiesta, and Tastetastic/It’s a Keeper Thursdays, Fit & Fabulous Fridays, These Chicks Cooked Whole Foods Recipe Swap and Nutritious & Delicious Potluck Party.
Happy National Margarita Day! I went to my fridge to make a classic lime margarita and discovered I had NO limes, but still a few kumquats … hmm … kumquats are kinda like limes. They’re tart but also sweet … I bet they would be good in a margarita.
And the watermelon? I know, it’s not watermelon season. But I had some yellow watermelon in my fridge that I had “pickled” a while ago by drowning it in tequila. It makes a really nice watermelon-flavored tequila. And the bonus is that you can use the drowned watermelon chunks in margaritas. I think you could really use this same idea with just about any fruit you like in your margaritas. Berries, mangoes, guavas, hey, whatever! Watermelon is REALLY nice in margaritas, though.
So this is my way of celebrating National Margarita Day. The way I see it, with all that blended fruit in there, it’s really quite healthy, right?
Yellow Watermelon Kumquat Margaritas
Adapted from Saveur
To make the drunken watermelon and watermelon-infused tequila:
- Yellow Watermelon, seeded and cut into chunks
- Silver Tequila
Put the watermelon in a glass jar. Fill the jar with tequila, completely covering all the watermelon chunks. Seal the jar, and keep it in the fridge for at least 2 days. (It keeps for a LONG time if you don’t use it right away.)
To make the margaritas:
- 1 cup of drunken watermelon chunks
- 1 kumquat (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter … if yours are smaller, toss in a few!), cut into chunks and seeded … (or substitute some lime or orange juice if you don’t have a kumquat)
- 1/4 cup watermelon-infused tequila
- 1/8 cup limeade concentrate
- 1/8 cup Cointreau or Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
- Ice cubes
Put all ingredients in a blender (yes, the whole kumquat should go in, including the rind!) and add a few ice cubes. Blend till smooth. Add more ice cubes till the margaritas are the desired slushiness. I didn’t make mine too icy today because it is still February and although it is unseasonably warm here today, I’m not quite up for a slushy cold margarita yet.
This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Cinco de Mayo Fiesta.
This is a quick, easy, healthy, delicious and fancy shmancy looking appetizer that could easily morph into a dinner, if you skipped making the little cups and served the shrimp mixture over rice or even rolled it up into a tortilla, burrito-style.
The cups are simply tortilla triangles sprayed with cooking oil and baked.
You could fill the pretty little cups with just about anything your little heart desires … I just happened to have some black beans, shrimp, salsa, cilantro, and lime juice on hand, begging to be used in something delicious …
Spicy Shrimp, Avocado, & Black Bean Bites
- Large flour tortillas (white or whole wheat or whatever flavor you like)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped celery, leaves reserved
- 2 -3 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped
- 2 Tablespoons white wine
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen shrimp
- 1 cup of cooked black beans
- Juice of half a lime
- 1/3 cup of your favorite salsa (I used my kiwi, kumquat, & mango salsa)
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- Avocado, peeled and cut into little chunks and/or shredded cheese if you like
Cut the flour tortillas into 6 triangles. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and wedge one tortilla triangle into each muffin cup. Spray the tops of the tortillas with cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes or until the tortillas are golden brown and crispy.
Now, make the filling:
- Chop the onion, celery and garlic, reserving the celery leaves for later.
- Spray a cooking pan with cooking spray, heat over medium high heat till hot, then add the onion, garlic and celery and saute briefly. Add the white wine and saute for a few minutes or until the wine dissipates and the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the shrimp and black beans and saute a few minutes longer until the shrimp is cooked through. Add the salsa and lime juice and stir everything together just briefly till it’s all good and hot.
- Stir in the reserved celery leaves and most of the cilantro leaves, reserving some for garnish.
- Spoon a bit of the filling into each tortilla cup, garnishing with avocado, cilantro, and cheese (if desired). I tried it both with and without the cheese and it is good both ways.
You can make the filling ahead of time (like I did) and assemble these babies right before serving.
My sister had just had a baby … she was in the hospital recovering and I get a text message from her at 5:38 am the next morning:
“For ur blog: avocado cheesecake. Saw in magazine. Looked wonderful.”
I know they keep you awake at ungodly hours in the hospital, but at 5:38 am she is thinking about cheesecake?
I set down my phone and went back to sleep … But when I woke up, I realized that my baby sister just had a baby … and she wants cheesecake … so I did what any good sister does … I drove to see her this weekend and made her cheesecake.
Actually, I didn’t make the cheesecake. I had several helpers. Baby’s older brother and sisters were lining up chairs in the kitchen to help me make it. There was barely room for me!
Our pretty green cheesecake turned out kind of messy and soft … it took a long time to set up and we had a hard time waiting for it. I think it didn’t set quite firmly enough because I didn’t get all the gelatin in there. I noticed it later when I was cleaning up … some of the gelatin got stuck in the spoon, some had stuck in the bowl I had mixed it in. If you make this cheesecake, make sure you put all the gelatin in, or if you can’t quite get it all out of the bowl, then cut back on the amount of milk. It doesn’t need to be QUITE that soft.
If you were worried about putting avocado in cheesecake, you really needn’t have bothered. The avocado lends such a lovely creamy texture. It might sound a little odd, but when you taste it, you will think it’s marvelous. It is creamy and sweet and delicious.
Sweet Avocado Cheesecake with Pomegranates & Walnut Crust
Adapted from The Amazing Avocado
- 3/4 cup ground walnuts
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons light butter
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- 1 1/2 cups skim milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 fully ripened Avocados
- 4 ounces fat-free cream cheese
- 4 ounces light cream cheese
- 1/8 cup lime juice
Heat oven to 350°F. In food processor, pulse walnuts until finely ground. Add graham cracker crumbs and sugar; pulse just until combined. Add butter and water; pulse until ingredients are thoroughly combined and resemble wet sand. Press into bottom of an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. I found I had plenty of crust mixture to fill two smaller pans: a medium sized (7 1/2 inch?) and a little 5-inch springform pan.
Bake 20 minutes; cool completely.
I used the larger of the two pans for this cheesecake … and saved the little one for another purpose.
Now for the sweet avocado cheesecake filling:
- In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine gelatin with 2 tablespoons water; let stand for 5 minutes.
- In a saucepan, heat the milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla until good and hot. Add gelatin; simmer until gelatin has completely dissolved, about 1 minute.
- In food processor or blender, combine avocados, cream cheese, lime juice and milk mixture until smooth.
- Pour into baked crust (it was enough to fill a 7 1/2 inch pan–if you want a larger cheesecake, you may want to make more filling); cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until set. (for us it took much longer than 2 hours … really it wasn’t ready till the next morning …)
- Remove side of pan; cut cheesecake into 10 slices. Serve with pomegranate seeds and chopped mangoes or drizzle with raspberry sauce, if desired.
Cover and refrigerate any leftovers. The top will likely discolor a bit from the avocado. Don’t get too worried about that … it’s normal and won’t affect the flavor.
with Tequila Lime Vinaigrette
Do you see the kiwi in there? It’s a master at hide-and-seek …
Yesterday I walked into my kitchen looking for some lunch … I am trying to eat up that big tub of herb organic salad mix my mom and dad got for me, so I thought I’d make a salad. And I’m trying to clean out some of the things in the freezer, so I added some chicken nuggets. And then I found some feta cheese and a red onion from Dad’s garden. But it sounded boring … what else could I add to my salad? Aha! a bunch of kiwis my daughter hasn’t eaten yet … and some basil …
That’s how this salad came to be. I just kept finding things to put in it. Some of my best recipes are born that way.
I told my daughter that I put Kiwi in my salad today and she said yes, of course, it goes great in fruit salad. I said no, I used it in a green salad with chicken and cheese and red onions. She said that’s just weird.
Well, yes, maybe it is a little weird. But it is also really good. The taste of the crispy chicken, the sweet juicy kiwi, the salty cheese, the greens, and the herbs — it is just a really good flavor combination. You will just have to try it and find out for yourself.
Kiwi & Chicken Salad with Feta, Basil, and Mixed Greens with Tequila Lime Vinaigrette
- Mixed Organic Herb Mix or Mixed Greens (including fresh dill … if it’s not in the greens I do recommend adding it!)
- Chicken nuggets or grilled chicken or other chicken (this is a great use for leftover chicken!)
- Red onion, cut in small chunks
- Kiwi fruit, peeled and cut into pieces
- Feta cheese crumbles
- Fresh basil leaves (and flowers if you have them!)
First make the dressing and let it set to mix the flavors while you prepare the salad.
Fill the salad bowl 3/4 full with the organic herb mix, and sprinkle with remaining ingredients as you please. Drizzle with the Tequila Lime Vinaigrette.
Tequila Lime Vinaigrette (from Cooking Light Magazine)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons tequila
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
- Dash of salt
- Toss all ingredients into a food processor and whir till blended. Or you can just whisk them all together in a bowl, but the food processor will chop up the cilantro really nicely. I used watermelon-infused tequila (made by soaking watermelon cubes in tequila for several days). Cover and chill until ready to use.
This recipe was shared at Tastetastic Thursdays.
This recipe is so easy, you can make it in your sleep. Well, at least I hope you sleep while it’s “cooking”! It takes a week or two, so you still have time to make it for Christmas if you have someone that loves cranberries and vodka.
(Adapted from Fancy Napkin)
This is all you do: Cut a bunch of cranberries in half, and slice a lime into thin wedges. Layer them in a jar. I used a small jar because I only wanted a little, but if you are making it for friends for the holidays, you probably want to use a larger jar and a lot more cranberries.
This is a pint jar and it took about 1/3 of a bag of fresh cranberries. I used 1/2 a lime I think but next time I would use less lime to bring out the taste of the cranberries more.
Fill the jar amost completely with fruit, then pour in vodka so it more than completely covers the fruit. (Use whatever vodka you like … the cheap kind is fine because the fruit flavors will overpower the vodka anyway.) Cover tightly and store the jar in a dark place for a week or two, making sure to visit it and shake it up every couple days to distribute the flavors.
After the “resting period”, strain the fruit out by pouring into a cheesecloth covered strainer over a bowl and squeezing all the juices out of the fruit, then funnel into a pretty jar (or whatever your little heart desires).
You will have a beautiful ruby red vodka. It’s going to be sour because cranberries and limes are naturally sour. You probably want to add a bit of simple syrup (recipe below) to sweeten it up. I wanted it sour because I have some champagne that is too sweet and I wanted something to tone that sweetness down a bit, but if you want your vodka a little sweeter, add some of the simple syrup below.
Fancy Napkin has a fantastic recipe for Crantinis using this vodka!
- 3/4 c. water
- 1/3 c. sugar
- 1 T. grated lime zest
Mix the sugar, water, and lime zest in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over med-high heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Add a bit of syrup to the cranberry lime vodka and shake, then taste. Add more until you have the desired sweetness. Save the rest of the simple syrup for another occasion (like berry liqueur!)
This recipe has been shared at Tuesday Talent Show.
I suppose it might seem a little odd to be posting a watermelon salsa on December 1st, but believe it or not, I still have some watermelon to use up from my dad’s garden. He had such a huge crop of yellow watermelon this year that they actually donated a trailerfull of them to the local school so they could serve it to the children for lunch! Isn’t that amazing? And then there were still a bunch left! They didn’t have room for all of them in the fridge so they were storing them in the shed. Luckily the weather cooperated and brought cool but not overly chilly temperatures. Last time they came down to visit they brought me 10 watermelon! Each one is small … but still, how do you use 10 watermelon?
I gave six of them away, I made watermelon sorbet, I made some watermelon tequila, and then I made salsa. We are down to half a watermelon which I think will get eaten without any special preparations.
First I made a “plain” watermelon salsa. I think this salsa would be delicious over chicken, fish or pork. It’s fruity, with a light sweetness, spicy, fun. It makes your body feel good inside the same way that a cool watermelon does on a hot summer day. And the colors are just so fantastic too!
Then I remembered how much our friends loved the black bean salsa I made a while back and I thought perhaps I should add some black beans. This black bean watermelon salsa has a bit more substance. The beans add protein and a really nice flavor and texture contrast to the sweet, crunchy watermelon. This black bean version would be great with chips or in a salad. I am also thinking melted cheese on chips with this black bean watermelon salsa spooned over would be such an amazing snack.
Watermelon Salsa Two Ways
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 of a red onion
- 1 1/2 bell peppers
- 2 jalapenos (for a milder salsa, use a smaller amount of jalapeno, or leave it out altogether)
- 2 c. seeded watermelon, cut into very small chunks (I used yellow watermelon, but you can use red)
- 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- a few sprigs of fresh basil, chopped
- a few sprigs of fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
- juice of half a lime
- 2nd Way: add 2/3 cup or so of black beans
Toss the garlic, onion, and peppers into a handi chopper or food processor and process till finely chopped (or chop them finely with a knife). In a medium bowl, combine the pepper mixture with the watermelon, tomatoes, salt, herbs and lime juice.
If you want a “meatier”, more substantial salsa, stir in the black beans.
I bottled some of the black bean watermelon salsa up to give to our TaeKwonDo instructors. They really love black bean salsa and I think they’re going to LOVE this one.
I often put green chile powder and granulated garlic in the butter for my popcorn, but today I wanted a little more flavor, something extra special you could even give as a gift to your chile-head friends. Baking it in the oven takes out the juiciness from the lime, but leaves in the lime flavor and makes the popcorn extra-crunchy.
If you want a flavorful popcorn with less heat, just leave out the jalapeno.
I am a bit of a popcorn fanatic, so for me to say I could eat a big bowl of this for dinner is not all that unusual, but this popcorn has such a great crunch, kick and flavor, I did eat the whole bowl for a mid-afternoon snack. All by myself. And I am really wishing it wasn’t all gone … Sorry friends! I’m gonna have to make a new batch for you … good thing it’s so easy!
Chile Lime Spiced Popcorn
For a fun holiday gift, package this spicy popcorn in a Mason jar or decorated tin, along with a few good Mexican beers (or favorite non-alcoholic drinks) nestled in a colorful basket or bowl.
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Red Robin seasoning or your favorite seasoned salt
- Juice of 1/2 of a lime
- 10 – 12 cups of popped popcorn (I used an air popper for popping my popcorn)
- Put all the ingredients except for the lime juice and popcorn in a small microwaveable cup or bowl. I usually cover the butter to prevent it from splattering all over the place. Microwave the butter-spice mix on medium for about 2 minutes or until the butter is fully melted.
- Add the lime juice to the spiced butter and stir well.
- Prepare a bowl of popcorn (I use an air popper to make mine), and spread the popcorn in a large flat pan at least 1 inch deep. With a spoon, drizzle the chile lime butter all over the popcorn, then stir lightly. Sprinkle lightly with Red Robin Seasoning or salt.
- Bake at 300 degrees F. for about 5 to 7 minutes or longer … until the popcorn is good and crispy! Sprinkle with salt or seasoned salt to taste.
- Serve warm!–or store in an airtight container or mason jar to give to your popcorn-loving friends. If you give it as a gift, you can tell your friends if they want the popcorn hot to warm it in the oven at 300 for 3 – 5 minutes before eating.
Janet is here for Thanksgiving this year and she wanted to make citrus salsa. She even brought a can of mandarin oranges just for the occasion. So Janet and I made citrus salsa with some of Mom’s tomatoes and Dad’s jalapenos. The japs are super hot this year!
If you want to tone down the heat of the salsa, just use bell pepper or a smaller amount of jalapeno.
Janet’s Citrus Salsa
- 3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 15-oz. can of mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained and chopped, or 2 oranges, peeled and chopped
- 2 teaspoons of chopped garlic
- 2 jalapenos, finely chopped
- 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
- 2 Tablespoons of lime juice
- About 3 Tablespoons of fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Let rest for an hour or so to let the flavors blend. Serve with tortilla chips or on nachos, fish, chicken, pork, whatever!
My sister thought this salsa would be good with black beans in it. It certainly went well with the black bean turkey nachos she made.
To me, basil has got to be one of the best herbs on the planet. I just love the intense rich and spicy, peppery flavor of it, with a hint of clove and mint. I keep basil in pots so I can enjoy it year round, and they keep me supplied with fresh basil for salads, pasta, pizzas, salad dressings, breads, sandwiches, etc. You can use it as a dip with hunks of good french bread. My little basil pots are great for every day use, but they don’t ever yield that much at once.
However, I am a VERY lucky girl because my mom and my friend are phenomenal basil growers and they often have more than they can handle! And I just tumbled into a lucky spot this weekend when I went to visit my good friend Sunday night. Her basil was growing like crazy! I cut and cut and cut and we dug a couple of the plants up for a potted basil plant and still you couldn’t even tell we’d taken any.
And whenever I get a lot of basil, I HAVE to make pesto!
Pesto is one of those wonderful flavorful things you can use in so many ways. It’s most traditionally used as a pasta sauce, but I like to use it on pizzas (instead of pizza sauce) and sandwiches. I also like to add some to the ricotta when I’m making lasagna. You can even add it to soup! It freezes well so it’s easy to pull it out whenever you need to add a little garlicky basil flavor to something. I have heard of people freezing it in ice cube trays then just popping out a pesto cube whenever they need pesto. I think that’s a great idea, but I never seem to have room in my freezer for ice cube trays! I do, however, have room for a couple little containers of basil.
This time I added lime juice because my basil-growing friend always puts lime in her pesto and her pesto stays such a bright green color and mine used to turn to an ugly dark green over time. The lime adds a little tang too, which is brilliant, and so beautiful. Look at that color!
- A big bunch of fresh basil leaves, washed, stems removed (I had enough basil leaves to entirely fill my blender even after packing down the leaves a bit)
- 2/3 c. olive oil
- 1/2 c. pinon nuts
- 1 c. freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese
- 2 T. tequila
- About 5 cloves garlic (you can adjust more or less depending on how garlicky you like it)
- juice of 1 lime
- Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If it won’t blend well, add a bit of water to get it to blend. Just enough to get the blender to go–you want the pesto to end up a thick paste.
- Freeze whatever you don’t want to use right away in small containers (or an ice cube tray!). A little pesto goes a long way!
This picture is larger than life size … I love the intense green of this pesto!