Double Avocado Toast – Not Really a Recipe

Double Avocado Toast – Not Really a Recipe

This is the second post in my new series called “Not Really a Recipe”. These will be non-recipe posts that just give ideas on how to fix meals that are tasty and require very little work.

This dish is perfect for lunch, brunch or cut into slices for an appetizer. The dish is made using grain-filled bread that’s buttered and lightly toasted then topped with my Zesty Guacamole recipe, slices of avocado, cilantro leaves and edamame. Right before serving, I squeeze some lime juice on. Simple to make and boasting big, perfect flavors.

Let me know if you try this!

Cheers,

Veronique

Salmon with Avocado Mash – Not Really a Recipe

Salmon with Avocado Mash – Not Really a Recipe

This will be the first in a new series I’m going to do called “Not Really a Recipe”. These will be non-recipe posts that just give ideas on how to fix meals that are tasty and require very little work.

This dish is one I eat often…..blackened salmon topped with my Zesty Guacamole recipe. I use good quality salmon, sprinkle blackening seasonings on it, sear in a very hot cast iron pan, squirt some lime juice on and top with the guac. Simple, low-carb and most importantly, very tasty.

Let me know if you try this!

Cheers,

Veronique

Vegetarian Chili Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

Vegetarian Chili Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

I’m still on my mission to try to stick to vegetarian dishes on #MeatlessMonday and since I’d make a double batch of my Vegetarian Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili a month ago and it was calling my name from the freezer, I decided to use that delicious concoction in a stuffed pepper dish.

Since I defrosted about 3 cups of chili, I used the remaining two cups for a southwestern lasagna and I’ll share that with you next week.

These stuffed peppers are fab as a take to work lunch as they’re really simple to microwave from the office kitchen. They’re also great paired with a salad dressed with some tasty, zesty dressing (perhaps my Easy Greek Vinaigrette) for a light dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large red bell pepper (if green or yellow peppers are cheaper, go for them)
  • 1 cup brown or white rice, cooked
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese, plus 2 reserved tablespoons
  • 1 cup vegetarian chili (could be store-bought_

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Remove the pepper stem and cut the pepper in half lengthwise. Remove any seeds and extra membrane from the inside of each half.
  3. Place each pepper halves, cut side down, in a baking dish and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes so the pepper is cool enough to handle.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the rice, the cup of cheese and the chili.
  5. Spoon the chili mixture inside each bell pepper half and return to the baking dish. Top each pepper half with a tablespoon of cheese and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve with a side salad. Yields 2 servings.

 

Vegetarian Chili Stuffed Red Bell Peppers
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Ingredients
  1. • 1 large red bell pepper (if green or yellow peppers are cheaper, go for them)
  2. • 1 cup brown or white rice, cooked
  3. • 1 cup grated Cheddar cheese, plus 2 reserved tablespoons
  4. • 1 cup vegetarian chili (could be store-bought)
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 2. Remove the pepper stem and cut the pepper in half lengthwise. Remove any seeds and extra membrane from the inside of each half.
  3. 3. Place each pepper halves, cut side down, in a baking dish and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes so the pepper is cool enough to handle.
  4. 4. In a large bowl, combine the rice, the cup of cheese and the chili.
  5. 5. Spoon the chili mixture inside each bell pepper half and return to the baking dish. Top each pepper half with a tablespoon of cheese and bake for 20 minutes.
Notes
  1. Serves 2.
Food & Wine Chickie Insider http://www.foodandwinechickie.com/
Cheers,

Veronique

The Absolute Best Texas Style Beef Chili

The Absolute Best Texas Style Beef Chili

Texas Style Beef ChiliI’ve been using my “Beef Chili for a Crowd” recipe for as long as I can remember. It’s flavorful, a bit spicy and feeds an army. I never saw a reason to use a different recipe until I judged a chili competition when this elderly gentleman made the absolutely best Texas-style chili I’ve ever had. For those not familiar with Texas-style chili – it contains no beans (blasphemy) and it typically featured hand-chopped beef instead of the common ground beef style that’s so popular here in the northeast.

This chili is hearty, rich, and earthy with just the right level of spice. I won’t lie – cubing the beef into small pieces pretty much sucks, but the final product is so worth it.

While many grocery stores now carry dried chiles, I visited my local Mexican grocer to find the requisite guajillo chiles.

I know it’s a multi-step recipe, but it freezes beautifully for a month, so make it, have a bowl and freeze the rest!   

I serve this chili with tortilla chips for dipping, guacamole, cheddar and sour cream. Use whatever garnishes you enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 8 dried chiles, either New Mexico or guajillo
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 6 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 – 2½ pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup dark beer
  • 3 Tbsp. yellow cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • Sour cream, for garnish (optional)
  • Sharp Cheddar cheese, grated, for garnish (optional)
  • Diced avocado, for garnish (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Lay out dried chiles on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast in the oven for 8 minutes, until fragrant. Add the roasted chiles to a bowl, cover them with hot water and allow to soak for 30 minutes. I use a bowl to weight down the chiles in the water – SEE IMAGE OF THIS TRICK.
  3. Drain the chiles (reserve the soaking water), cut off stems, remove seeds and roughly chop them. Add the chopped chiles to a blender along with the cumin, the salt, the pepper, 1/2 cup of the reserved chile soaking liquid and blend until the mixture is very smooth, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season beef cubes with big pinches of salt and pepper. Add 3 tablespoons vegetable oil and brown beef in 2 batches until browned on all sides, 8-10 minutes per batch. Remove beef and set aside.
  5. Lower the heat to medium, add the remaining 3 tablespoons vegetable oil to the pot and add onions – cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  6. Add the beef stock, 1 cup of the reserved chile soaking liquid and the beer to the onions and garlic and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the beef back to pot with any cooking juices along with the pureed chile paste and the cornmeal. Turn the heat to low and simmer the chili, covered, for 90 minutes. Uncover the chili and cook for 15 more minutes.
  7. Add the vinegar and the brown sugar to the pot, remove from heat, and let sit for 30 minutes for the chili to thicken. The chili can be made a day ahead of serving, up until this point. Simply cool, cover and refrigerate.
  8. When ready to eat, gently reheat chili over low heat, adding more beef stock if the chili is too thick. Give a final seasoning of salt or pepper, if needed.
  9. Serve chili with any/all preferred garnishes.

Yields 4 hearty portions.

 

 

Adapted from this recipe.

Vegetarian Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili

Vegetarian Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili

Chili CookingWhile winter’s been mild here so far in New Jersey, I’m still craving hearty, comforting food. In my continued effort to ‘prep Sunday – eat throughout the week’, this week, I’ve made a meatless chili that was uber satisfying and can be used in various ways during the week. I used it as dip for chips during the football game and topped a baked sweet potato with it for lunch (see photos).

This chili can be made in the slow cooker too – just throw all the ingredients in the crockpot (except for the toppings) and cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup vegetable broth, then more if the chili gets too thick
  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed totatoes
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 28-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Toppings (optional) – fresh cilantro, lime wedges, diced avocado, sour cream and cheddar/jack cheese

Directions:

  1. In a large heavy Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and bell pepper and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add garlic and sauté 1 additional minute.
  4. Add the butternut squash, the salt and pepper, the chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the vegetable broth, tomatoes, corn and black beans.
  6. Bring to a light boil then reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer for 45 minutes, or until the butternut squash is completely tender.
  7. Thin with an additional broth if needed.
  8. Serve with desired toppings, if using.

Serves 8.

Healthy Chicken Fiesta Bowls

Healthy Chicken Fiesta Bowls

chicken-fiesta-bowlsIt’s a new year and I’m making all efforts to use meal prepping more so I can cook on Sundays and have delicious, healthy lunches during the week. I did pretty well with this in 2016, but since I travel over 50% of the time, meals at home weren’t very frequent. This recipe makes four lunch since bowls that are easy to take to work and reheat in the microwave. Corn would be a nice addition to this recipe, so feel free to add if you’re not trying to cut down on carbs a bit. Ingredients:

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into three pieces each (6 pieces total)
  • 2 red bell peppers, julienned
  • 1 large onion, chopped in medium pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. creole/blackening seasoning (could use taco seasoning)
  • ½ tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinses
  • 1 cup fresh salsa (don’t want to make your own, check out the produce section of your grocery store for fresh salsa)
  • 4 Tbsp. cilantro leaves (optional)
  • 1 lime cut into 4, optional

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (to make cleanup easy). Place the chicken, peppers and onions on the baking sheet then sprinkle with blackening seasoning, salt and pepper. Drizzle the oil on the veggies and chicken and toss to coat with oil and spices evenly. Bake for 25 minute then turn oven to broil and broil for 3-4 minutes, until lightly charred. Allow to cool, then chop the veggies and chicken in bite size pieces.
  2. To assemble, divide the rice, black beans, salsa, chicken and cooked vegetables among 4 microwave-safe storage containers. Refrigerate until ready to eat, up to 5 days.
  3. When ready to eat, microwave partially-covered for 3 minutes. Garnish with cilantro leaves and, if using. Can also serve with additional salsa and lime juice.

Makes 4 lunch entrees.  

National Taco Day – Villalobos Carne Asada Taco

National Taco Day – Villalobos Carne Asada Taco

Chef Adam Rose

Chef Adam Rose

Villalobos Chef/Owner Adam Rose shares his tasty recipe for the already-popular Carne Asada Tacos in celebration of October 4th National Taco Day.

Carne Asada Taco

  • 1 lb. cleaned outer skirt steak
  • 4 oz. chopped cilantro
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground chipotle morita
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 8 tortillas
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped for garnish
  • 3 limes quartered

Instructions:

  1. Take cleaned skirt steak, place in shallow pan. Season with cilantro, olive oil, morita, salt & pepper to create a marinade. Cover and let rest for two hours.
  2. Remove skirt steak and grill each side for 5 minutes. Remove from grill and let rest 2 minutes.
  3. While meat is resting, place tortillas on the grill to heat.
  4. Chop steak, assemble on tortillas, and top with the garnish of chopped onion and limes.

Makes 8 tacos.

Best,

Veronique

5 Easy Day of the Dead Dishes

5 Easy Day of the Dead Dishes

Mexican Day Of The Dead Altar FrontDay of the Dead, Día de Muertos, is a Mexican holiday celebrated in that country and in many cultures globally. The holiday is an opportunity for family and friends to gather, pray and remember those close to them who have passed away. October 31, November 1 and November 2 are the specific days associated with this holiday.

The calavera, skull in English, is the symbol often associated to Día de Muertos. The calavera is showcased in masks and foods (chocolate or sugar skulls) and frequently features the name of the person receiving the offering on the skull’s forehead.

For those of you who want to mark this holiday with typical Mexican fare, here are 5 dishes to celebrate Día de Muertos with:

Cheers,

Veronique

30-Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup

30-Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tortilla SoupMy guy loves chicken tortilla soup and orders it anytime it’s on the menu at a restaurant. Me, I love the tangy lime and cilantro flavors of this soup but not the quick-to-turn-limp tortillas floating in the soup. Compromise – tortilla chips served on the side that can be added to the soup…or not. I’ve made this with leftover roast chicken and store-bought rotisserie chicken and don’t see much difference.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped into small dice
  • 1 medium jalapeno peppers, chopped into small dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp. each, salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 48-ounce can chicken broth
  • 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 small plain deli chicken, meat pulled off the bones and shredded
  • Diced avocado, optional
  • Tortilla-style chips, optional

Direction:

  1. Over medium-high heat, in a large heavy saucepan, heat oil for 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion and jalapeno pepper and cook for 5 minutes, until vegetables have softened, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, cayenne and cilantro. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the broth, tomatoes, lime juice and chicken and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. When ready to serve, pile some shredded chicken in the center of a bowl and ladle soup around it. If using, serve with a side or avocado and tortilla chips.

Makes 6 servings.

World’s Best Caesar Salad

World’s Best Caesar Salad

I love Caesar Salad and it surprises me how many restaurants do a poor job at serving up the right flavors: Parmesan cheese, garlic, anchovies and mustard. Yes, anchovies are a must as they add a depth of flavor to the dressing without tasting fishy.

Here is a darn good Caesar Salad rendition created with inspiration from Marc Forgione’s O.G. 1924 Hotel Caesar Salad as published here.

Dressing Ingredients:    

  • 3 soft-boiled eggs
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • Blend of 1 cup vegetable oil and ½ cup olive oil
  • 4 dashes hot sauce, like Cholula
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 5 anchovies packed in oil, chopped finely
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Dressing Directions: 

  1. In a food processor or blender, pulse the eggs, garlic, Worcestershire and Dijon until well combined, about 30 seconds.
  2. With the processor / blender running, slowly drizzle in the oils through the feeding hole. Add the hot sauce, cheese, anchovies and lemon juice. Pulse to combine, about 15 seconds.
  3. Season dressing with salt and pepper to taste.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, leaves torn into bite size pieces
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ loaf French bread (baguette), cut into 1” cubes
  • ½ cup Caesar dressing
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

Salad Directions:

  1. Place romaine lettuce in a large bowl.
  2. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add oil. Add the bread cubes to the hot oil and fry, flipping the cubes frequently, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Reserve croutons.
  3. Add the dressing to the romaine and toss thoroughly to coat every piece of lettuce.
  4. Add the croutons to the salad and sprinkle with cheese. Add cracked pepper and serve within 10 minutes.

Makes 4 hearty servings.