Revamped Guacamole Kit & Peligroso Skinny Margarita

DSC_0722

Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner and it is the first year, of the past 6, that I do not have to work behind an insanely packed bar slinging margaritas and shots of silver tequila. I was a bartender at a famous family-owned Mexican restaurant in Laguna Beach and have always had to get plenty of rest before this latin celebration in the past. Everyone knows Cinco de Mayo is a day of craziness and drinking shenanigans. This year, I can join in the festivities instead of working my booty off and sweating the day away. Let’s face it; we can not celebrate this day without a brilliant recipe for guacamole and, of course, a method for a stellar margarita. So, I am here to give you both. I like to think I know my margaritas and tequilas, that is for sure. My frequent choice for making margaritas behind the bar was Peligroso Silver Tequila, because I love the pure and smooth taste in this hand-crafted perfectly-aged tequila. It was a ‘no brainer’ to make margaritas for the blog, because, well… why not?? I like a “skinny” version of sorts, but I have to say, I hate calling it that. I think some of the hoity-toity bar patrons ruined it for me. Although, for what it’s worth, it really is skinny. It’s lower in calories, not too sweet, and perfectly measured so that the tequila is not masked by it’s counterparts.  You want to be able to taste what you are drinking. No one loves a cocktail full of sweet and sour mix. Gross.

DSC_0593

But, when it came to a go-to guac recipe, I wasn’t sure I had THE one. I had only recently discovered a new way to mix up my favorite appetizer; pairing the creamy avocado with a touch of a roasted corn. I was inspired by Joy the Baker’s recipe but made it tad simpler on myself by picking up a “guacamole kit” from my favorite market, Trader Joe’s. I spiced up the kit to make it more homemade with a bit of a fruity spin. I fed this to my husband the other day as a midday snack and he was silent while he chewed.  He said only 7 words, and I quote, “Babe. This is the best guacamole ever.”

So, there you have it. If he liked it, so will you, I promise. Happy Cinco de Drinko my friends! Stay Safe!

DSC_0642

DSC_0651

DSC_0658

Revamped Guacamole Kit {Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo} 

Makes 1 medium bowl of guacamole 
 

1 guacamole kit from Trader Joe’s (2 ripe avocados, 1 Roma tomato, 2 cloves garlic, 1 jalapeño, 1 shallot, 1 lime {juice and zest})

1 ear of organic corn, roasted (omit if on Paleo diet)

2 TBSP cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh mango, or frozen & thawed

1/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

Sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Husk the ear of corn and roast over an open flame on the stove top, turning regularly to ensure even roasting. Once the ear is speckled with black kernels, remove from the flame, and slice off the kernels using a sharp knife. Add the roasted corn kernels to a medium bowl. Prepare guacamole kit per package directions but remember to add the zest of the lime too. If you do not like it too spicy try to remove as many seeds as possible from the jalapeño before dicing. Save the pits from the avocados if you plan to store some of the guac. Add the cilantro and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder to your taste. Finish with chopped mango and pomegranate seeds. Serve with organic corn tortilla chips (I like the scoops) and a Peligroso Skinny Margarita! ¡Olé!

corn

guac

DSC_0714

* No Fail Storage Tip: To keep the guacamole from browning, spoon it into a tupperware with the 2 avocado pits. Place plastic wrap  over the top of the guacamole so that no air can touch it. Top the tupperware with it’s lid and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

guac storage

Peligroso Skinny Margarita {Vegan, Gluten Free}

Makes 2 margaritas 
 

2   1.5oz shots of 100% Agave Peligroso Silver Tequila (or your favorite silver tequila) divided

2    limes, cut into 8 wedges each

2    tsp organic Agave Nectar, divided (or organic wild honey)

2   splashes of margarita mix (I use Trader Joe’s marg mix, but feel free to use your favorite!)

1/2   cup sparkling water or club soda, divided

DSC_0582

1. Pour sea salt on a plate. Rub the rim of glass with a lime wedge and then dip onto the plate of salt. Rotate the glass several times to ensure even salt distribution around the rim, set aside. Fill a bar shaker with ice. Pour a shot of tequila (1.5oz) into the shaker, squeeze 3 lime wedges in, add 1 teaspoon of agave, a splash of margarita mix, and shake well. Pour over the salted and ice filled glass and top with soda water (about 1/4 cup in each). Garnish with a lime wedge. Repeat for the second margarita.

marg

DSC_0758

DSC_0812

Green Hemp Breakfast Smoothie

DSC_0545

“The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison” – Ann Wigmore

Some mornings call for something quick and entirely available on-the-go. Normally, I am someone who enjoys all aspects of being able to sit down to eat breakfast, but let’s face it, it’s not always an option. If you are like me and find yourself looking to curb your hunger for the first half of the day with something substantial, healthy, and nourishing; this is just what the doctor ordered. Not only is it packed with antioxidants, it is chalk-full of protein, as well as, vegan and gluten free. This particular smoothie has a total of 340 calories. A low-cal breakfast with incredible satiating power? Sign me up! If you do not have protein powder on hand (as it is an expensive pantry staple) feel free to use flax meal or ground hemp seeds as a substitution. Both are unbelievably nutritious and carry tons of omega-3’s and essential amino acids (protein’s little building blocks). Virtually, the beauty of a green smoothie is it’s versatility. Mix it up. Use what you have on hand, or better yet, what you are craving that day. If you do not have kale; use spinach, collard greens, or swiss chard instead. If you dislike almond milk, substitute for soy, rice, or coconut milk. Maybe, you like good old-fashioned peanut butter instead of almond butter. Kris loves frozen mango in his smoothie and I adore a good mix of berries. Perhaps you want to add a little spirulina for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals. All is welcomed and all is equally delightful. We can wholly agree that this way fast-food way of consuming breakfast is significantly beneficial to our livelihood. Happy blending!

DSC_0459

DSC_0469

DSC_0494

Green Hemp Breakfast Smoothie {Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo}

Makes 1 smoothie (5 minutes) 

 

2 packed cups fresh organic tuscan kale, chopped

1/2 cup organic unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/2 cup frozen mixed berries (feel free to use any frozen fruit you love)

1/2 frozen banana (I freeze my bananas with their peels on, so be sure to slice the peel off with a sharp knife before adding to blender)

1 heaping TBSP almond butter (I use homemade or store-bought fav; Justin’s Maple Almond Butter)

1 TBSP vanilla hemp protein powder (I get mine at Trader Joe’s)

1/4-1/2 cup water or coconut water  (for thinning)

Coconut chips or flakes (optional; for garnish)

DSC_0502

1. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. I like to add a bit of coconut water or plain water to thin out if it  won’t blend or seems to thick. If you are feeling fancy, garnish with coconut chips or extra berries.

DSC_0514

DSC_0526

DSC_0567

Whole Wheat Berry Shortcakes

DSC_0446

They say old habits die hard but I believe we can alter these habits to fit in with our future selves. I educated myself on the importance of monitoring what foods go in my body and I am very aware of each ingredient, where it came from, and more importantly it’s nutritious value to ensure that my future self is well taken care of. It is important to look out for ourselves now; I mean, if you won’t then who will? My old habits are still in existence but come in a healthier package these days. I still love a sweet treat after dinner, but instead of the ice cream sundae with chocolate sauce I had growing up, I might have some frozen yogurt with fresh berries. I like it better this way anyway. There is nothing like really tasting the freshness of your food. Out with the old preserved packaged stuff and in with new nourishing and beneficial fare.

dough

My girlfriend, Rachel, recently explained to me that her all-time favorite dessert is a strawberry shortcake with whipped cream. But she, like me, is always looking to health-ify the indulgences she used to consume to correspond with her fitness based lifestyle now. She asked me to come up with a new recipe for her old favorite and I was more than happy to oblige. After all, who doesn’t like  warm berry shortcake? Instead of angel food cake (full of white sugar and flour) or buttermilk biscuits (loaded with butter and full-fat milk) I wanted to come up with a healthier vessel entirely. I created some whole wheat biscuits sans butter and substituted in plain goat’s milk yogurt and almond milk. They turned out incredible. Not only do they contain more fiber than white flour biscuits, they are not laden with saturated fats. Because these are not buttery in nature, feel free to break one open and smear a bit of Earth Balance (vegan butter) and a smidgen of organic honey to enjoy hot and fresh out of the oven. Or, go all the way and make the new spin on the old fav with the warm berry shortcakes with a yogurt whipped cream (yes, I made a healthier whip too). It’s all about taking care of ourselves and of course, each other. So here you are Rachie, I hope you love them!

DSC_0325

DSC_0334

DSC_0344

DSC_0366

Whole Wheat Berry Shortcakes {Vegetarian} 

Biscuits (makes 10):

2 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting

1 tsp baking soda

1 TBSP aluminum free baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp organic cane sugar

1 cup plain yogurt (use greek or goat’s milk)

1/2 cup organic almond milk (plain and unsweetened)

Shortcakes (makes 2):

1/2 cup organic strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup organic blueberries

1/2 cup organic blackberries

Whipped Yogurt Cream (makes about 2 cups):

1-2 TBSP organic maple syrup

1 cup organic heavy whipping cream

2-3 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 5.3oz package organic greek vanilla yogurt (I get mine at Trader Joe’s)

1/4 cup organic powdered sugar, for dusting

DSC_0373

1. Make the biscuits. Preheat the oven to 425º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add in the plain yogurt. Mix with a wooden spoon until a crumbly dough forms. Add the almond milk in slowly and stir until the dough forms a ball (be careful not to over mix). Flour the counter top very well. Place the dough on the floured surface and sprinkle with a little more flour. Flour the rolling pin and roll into a 3/4″-1″ thick circle . Using a 2″ biscuit cutter (or a floured wine glass) cut out as many biscuits as you can before collecting the scraps to re-roll and cut. You should get 10 biscuits from the dough (if you have more than 10, the biscuits were rolled too thin). Line them on a baking a sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up. Serve immediately with Earth Balance and a bit of honey, or arrange on baking racks to cool before storing. The biscuits can be stored in an air-tight container for up to a week. To re-heat place in toaster oven for a few minutes to warm through.

DSC_0402

2. Make the whipped cream. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, yogurt and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and whip for about 3-5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Set aside. This makes about 2 cups so feel free to save the whip in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, stir with a whisk to form peaks before each use.

DSC_0423

3. In a small bowl combine all the berries and the maple syrup and let sit for about 10 minutes to macerate (you could substitute 1 1/2 cups of frozen berries, thawed). Add the berries and maple syrup to a medium sauté pan and cook for about 2 minutes, until syrup starts bubbling and berries are warmed through. Set aside. Take two of the biscuits and cut in half. Pour the berries on the bottom halves of the biscuits (make sure to get some of the sauce), top with yogurt whip, and place the tops of the biscuits on. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve.

DSC_0464

DSC_0475

Burrata & Balsamic Strawberries

DSC_0310

To me, strawberries=summertime. So when our recent CSA box arrived with a neat little package of these vibrant little organic beauties I reveled in the fact that super warm weather is on the horizon. I am excited to see what the summer has in store for our local farm and what inspiring fruits and veggies we will receive. Today, when I woke up, the sun was shining so brightly and the air outside felt different. The breeze was chilly but the sky was clear for miles. This, too, made me realize summer is fast-approaching. So happy.

DSC_0131

DSC_0148

For today, I was motivated to make something that would welcome the forthcoming weather change. Those gorgeous little strawberries HAD to be on the menu. One of my favorite ways to eat strawberries is tossed in balsamic vinegar. I realize some would think the combination of the two is a bit wacky, but these two ingredients are made for each other. They have an incredible balance of sweet and tangy and it makes your mouth want to celebrate. They are unbelievable with vanilla bean ice cream or a dollup of fresh whipped cream. I also happened to have one of my most favorite cheeses in all the world in my fridge, Burrata. If you have never had Burrata, you are in for something truly special. Burrata is a cow’s milk cheese made of a heavenly combination of soft mozzarella and cream. It’s spreadable and über buttery making for a wonderful snack on a toasty baguette. Actually, burrata means “buttered” in Italian. So there you go…. I feel I would need to say no more. The fresh addition of sweet basil really brings it home and makes this light snack perfect for a warm, sunny day. Also, it is one of the easiest things to make and magnificently impressive, so please, invite your friends over to share!

DSC_0175

DSC_0214

Burrata & Balsamic Strawberries {Vegetarian} 

Makes 6 toasts (double the recipe if entertaining)
Prep time: 35 minutes, Assembly time: 5 minutes

 

Balsamic Strawberries: 

1 pint organic fresh strawberries, sliced thin

1 TBSP balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tsp organic cane sugar

1/8-1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Crostinis: 

6 slices of multigrain baguette, drizzled with olive oil and toasted

1 4oz ball of Burrata (half of a package)

a few fresh basil leaves for garnish, sliced chiffonade style

a pinch of coarse sea salt (such as Maldon) sprinkled over each toast

DSC_0269

DSC_0280

DSC_0286

1. Prepare the balsamic strawberries by tossing together the strawberries, balsamic vinegar, sugar, and pepper in a medium bowl. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to macerate.

2. Slice the baguette in 6 slices, and drizzle each slice with a bit of extra virgin olive oil. Toast the baguette slices and then spread a thin layer of Burrata on each toast. Top with balsamic strawberries (add a little of the balsamic vinegar on the bottom of the bowl too), fresh basil, a pinch of salt and serve immediately. Serve with a crisp sauvignon blanc or brut champagne. Enjoy!

DSC_0306

DSC_0338

Asian Salad w/ Shiitake & Edamame

DSC_0118There is something to be said about a quick and easy dinner using fridge and pantry goods that most of us have on hand. It is so satisfying to know that you can throw together a healthy meal at any time of day without having to prep ahead of time. The key, is to create a pantry full of wholesome and nutritional staples and once you invest in such constituents you will be forever grateful. It is so empowering to have five or six nourishing ingredients readily available and create an entire meal that your whole family can love. It’s all about creating an entire spread out of nothing. Making a feast from famine. That is true creativity at it’s core.

DSC_0106

This salad happens to be one of my go-to dishes when I am in need of something fast and delicious. I love the asian flavors that embody this bowl of goodness. Feel free to mix it up and add whatever it is that you have stocked up. Sometimes I add pistachios for a bit of a crunch or sauté up some shaved brussels sprouts in with carrots and mushrooms. Leeks are always a good choice too. The asian style dressing is also something to be played around with. In our home we like things spicy, so Sriracha and red chili flakes are almost always accompanying our meals. If you are a wuss (I’m kidding) then use about half the amount or leave it out altogether. It’s all up to you. That really is the beauty of preparing salads (or any kind of dish in general); the infinite possibilities of versatility.

DSC_0130

DSC_0143

DSC_0155

Asian Salad w/ Shiitake & Edamame {Vegan, Gluten Free, Paleo} 

Makes 4 appetizer salads or 2 main salads 
Prep time: 5 minutes, Cook time: 5 minutes

 

1 5 oz bag of mixed greens of your choice (I use Trader Joe’s “Power to the Greens” mix)

1 TBSP coconut oil, melted

4 small carrots, sliced thin (I use the slicing attachment in my food processor)

7 oz shiitake mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced (Be sure to use a dry dish or paper towel to scrub clean, never wet your mushrooms because they will absorb all water become mushy)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

salt & pepper

1 cup shelled edamame, about 1/4 cup in each bowl

cilantro for garnish, chopped

white or black sesame seeds for  garnish

Spicy Asian Dressing:

1.5 TBSP toasted sesame oil

1 TBSP rice vineger

1 tsp sriracha or hot sauce

1 tsp honey or agave

1 TBSP chives, chopped

1 tsp tamari or low sodium soy sauce

1/2 tsp pepper

DSC_0194

DSC_0198

1.  Place the mixed greens in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl combine all salad dressing ingredients and whisk together well and set aside.

2. Melt the coconut oil in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds or until fragrant (careful not to burn the garlic). Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add the sliced carrots to the pan. Mix carrots and mushrooms together well, turn off heat, and set aside.

3. Assemble the salad. Toss the greens in the asian vinaigrette until well coated. Add the warm mushroom/carrot mixture  over the top and garnish with edamame, cilantro and sesame seeds. Divide into individual bowls. Serve with extra Sriracha (if you so choose) and enjoy with your favorite pair of chopsticks.

DSC_0139

DSC_0150

DSC_0157