Tag Archives: avocado

Six Layer Dip: A Way to Use Leftovers

Andrew and I had much food leftover from our Saturday night shindig. There was still a considerable amount of chili verde, pulled pork and one chicken breast left. What do with it? I contemplated chili verde pork tacos/burritos, but we had no tortillas. Then it came to me: I could make a layered dip for tonight’s BBQ at Peter’s house. Starting at ten in the morning, I started cooking my beans from scratch.

Cooking dried beans either intimidates people or just doesn’t sound very exciting. Okay, I get it. Beans are not a sexy food to cook. Plus it is so easy to buy canned beans. Canned beans however are expensive (much more expensive than buying them dried by the pound) and they often contain a lot of sodium. I also find them a tad mushy. Most of the time I do used canned beans, but I did not have any left and I did have half a pound of dried pink beans in my cupboard.

Cooking beans is a lot easier than people make it out to be. It’s certainly not quick but it is not the long ordeal that it is often made out to be. From cupboard to dip the beans took about an hour and a half. That is not bad considering many recipes say that YOU MUST soak them overnight or they will take forever to cook. Simply not true.

First, I rinsed my beans in cold water. Then I put them in a pot and covered them with water. You want at least two to three inches of water over your beans. Yes, you will need to watch the level of your water and replenish it from time to time. Do some laundry, bring a book into the kitchen, do some knitting, whatever. Bring your beans to a boil then reduce to a simmer so they are gently bubbling. Cover with a lid partway and cook for until they tender. This can take anywhere from an half to four hours. It depends on how much you’re cooking and what kind of bean it is. Mine took about an hour and a half to cook.

Cover beans with at least two inches of water. 

Bring beans to a boil, then reduce heat so they bubble gently.

Partially cover and cook until beans are tender. 

Drain the beans, rinse, and let sit until room temperature. 

When the beans are tender, take off the heat and drain in a colander. You may want to save some of your bean cooking liquid for the next part of the recipe. I did not save mine and I had to use water. Rinse the beans and let them come down to room temperature.

Mash the beans with a fork. I also added spices. 

Now is the fun part. You get to mash your beans to whatever texture you like. I wanted mine chunky so I tried a fork. That was not getting me ANYWHERE. So I used my fist instead. Yes, I fisted my beans. Yes, my hands were perfectly clean and this was totally sanitary. It was also fun. You should never doubt your hands as tools. You may need to add a little water, broth, or bean liquid to get a smoother texture. You can also go a whiz in the food processor depending on how smooth you would like your beans.

Smooth out the beans with a spatula. 

The beans serve as the base for your dip. They are the heaviest and need to be smoothed out. Pour into a large bowl and smooth until level. Then I topped it with the pulled pork which I also smoothed out with a rubber spatula.

Add pulled pork. 

Next I made some rice. I took half a cup of white rice and put it in a small pot. I covered it with vegetable broth with at least an inch covering the rice. This is the correct amount and  you don’t need to measure this exactly. From there bring to a boil then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for about fifteen minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and your rice is cooked.

Top the pulled pork with rice. 

Chopped chicken breast marinated in Frank’s Red Hot. 

Add chicken and more Frank’s Red Hot sauce. 

Cover the pulled pork with the rice layer. I topped the rice layer with chopped chicken breast marinated in Frank’s Red Hot sauce (my friend Ian’s contribution to our Saturday night shindig) then topped with more Frank’s Red Hot. Next came chopped avocado. Then this was finally topped with some of the leftover manzana chili verde (see previous post).

The final product

Vegetarian Taco Night

Tonight we made vegetarian tacos. It’s super simple and not even really a recipe. We sliced up some avocado and pineapple, cooked up some beans, and heated tortillas up.

Fish Tacos

Life has been busy in my neck of the woods. I’ve been moving from Santa Cruz to Santa Clara, I just started a new job, and I’m starting classes at San Jose State. Some of my days are going to be thirteen hours long, which means that I am not going to have much time to be cooking.

After a seven hour class this Saturday I was starving. I got out one of my trusty Martha Stewart cookbooks and mulled over what I wanted to eat. I really wanted to eat fish since for lunch I had leftover greasy Chinese food. Fish is clean on the palate and healthy tasting. I found this fish taco recipe in Martha’s Good Food Fast cookbook. By taking out the sour cream I made it Andrew friendly.

Fish Tacos

  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 small red cabbage, thinly shredded
  • 4 green onions thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno minced
  • 1 lb. tilapia filets cut into strips
  • 8 flour tortillas (6 inch)
  • 1 avocado

1. In a large bowl, combine sour cream and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Transfer half the mixture to another container; set aside for serving. Toss the cabbage, green onions, and jalapeno with the remaining sour cream mixture. Season again with salt and pepper.

2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. In two batches, cook the fish until golden brown on all sides, five to six minutes.

3. Dice an avocado. If you want, heat your tortillas (I skipped this step because I don’t care) according to package instructions. Add avocado, fish, and cabbage mixture to tortilla. Enjoy!

Two Egg Omelette

This morning after my walk I decided I wanted to make an omelette for breakfast. I had in my mind that I would make a duck egg omelette. I don’t know why, but I wanted to try duck eggs. I drove over to Whole Foods because I believed they sold individual eggs including duck eggs. Disappointingly they do not sell individual eggs anymore and they do not sell duck eggs. I bought organic eggs instead. I also organic loose leaf spinach, a snack sized piece of kerrygold cheddar, and an avocado.

I have tried to make omelettes before and have always failed, ending up with scrambled eggs and toppings. This time I used a non-stick skillet, plenty of margarine, low-temperature, and patience. I came out with a pretty nice looking and delicious tasting omelette.

Two Egg Omelette

  • two eggs
  • 1 tbsp. margarine
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 oz. kerrygold dubliner cheddar
  • 3/4 cup spinach

1. Heat non-stick skillet with margarine on medium low heat. Whisk eggs until frothy. Add eggs to the skillet once margarine is melted and make sure the eggs are evenly spread on the surface of the pan.

2. While the eggs are cooking, cut the avocado, shred the cheese, and tear up spinach into smaller pieces.

3. It will take about five to seven minutes for the omelette to cook. Once the eggs are set, add filling on one side. Add cheese first, then avocado, and then spinach. This will ensure that the cheese melts. To fold the omelette, gently work the spatula underneath the non-filling side of the eggs, lift up carefully, and fold over the filling side. Slide the omelette off the skillet onto the plate.

Tacos…or something with tortillas

One thing we eat a lot of around here in California is “Mexican” food. “Mexican” is a blanket term for anything involving tortillas, rice, beans, and avocados. This can be in the form of burritos, tacos, papusas, empanadas, enchiladas, or quesadillas. I’m not sure what can be classified as authentic around here. Then there is also the clash between the NorCal and SoCal burritos. I’m a NorCal burrito person myself because I’m not into the refried beans that are used in the SoCal burrito. Plus, NorCal burritos are monster sized and super cheap. They can last me two meals.

Last week we bought a large package of flour tortillas from Safeway and did a taco night. Taco night around our house pretty much consists of pinto beans, avocados, flour tortillas, chile verde, and cheese (for me). This time I made brown rice to go with it and Andrew sauteed some diced yellow onion. This was the first time that I succesfully made brown rice. It was great! This is a simple, easy meal. I wouldn’t say it’s quick because brown rice takes almost an hour to cook, but it definitely is easy.

Basic Brown Rice

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth

1. Put brown rice and vegetable broth in a small saucepan. Then bring heat to high and boil.

2. Once the rice and broth are boiling, turn the heat to low and cover with a lid. Let it simmer for forty-five to fifty-five minutes.

3. Remove the lid and fluff the rice. I had excess liquid even though my rice was done cooking. I just drained this out into the sink.

Here is what it looks like as you’re cooking:

1. The rice and broth boiling. The red rings are what heat my food (I miss gas burners).

Yes, our stove-top is almost always that clean.

This is the rice simmering. Seriously, this is thrilling stuff. Do the rest of your cooking while the rice is cooking away or be like me and read a history book (I recommend Alison Weir)

And here is the finished product. No, yours will not be this glowing. That is just my lovely over the top flash because I do not have my portable desk lamp at this house yet.

We ate this with canned pinto cooked with onion powder, chili powder, and minced garlic. We always buy the organic, low-sodium kind and then rinse them before cooking.

And this is the final product. It is a terrible picture but I couldn’t focus with that little of light.

Don’t Let the Cat out of the Bag Eggs

There are many names for this kind of dish. I mostly call it Egg in the Hole, but I’ve heard it called a number of names: egg in the basket, toad in the hole, and bird’s nest. I looked it up on Wikipedia to see what other names they had:

Rocky Mountain toast, egg-in-a-basket, moon egg, egg-in-the-hole, one-eyed Jack, bird’s nest, gas house eggs, the Elephant Egg Bagel, frog in a hole, camp eggs or camper’s eggs, bull’s eye, egg in bed, egg(y)-in-a-bread(y), moon toast, Moon over Miami, Popeye, Lone Ranger, Wink Eye, and Cowboy Eggs.

Essentially its a fried egg in a hole in a piece of bread, a waffle, or even a bagel. I used California Black Bread from a local bakery. I love this bread. I love this bread even more when there is a delicious egg in it. I love this bread even more when there is a delicious egg on it topped with avocado topped with pesto. I think somewhere in the dictionary next to the definition of love are those things put together.

Now this is a dish that unfortunately can never be vegan. Don’t even try. Don’t even try with your tofu scramble. It won’t work. It is not the same. You can never replace eggs this way. There is no oozing runny yellow egg yolk in a tofu scramble. In fact, in my humble opinion, there is nothing but rubbery weirdness in a tofu scramble. Here come the protests…

I want to tell you the story as to how I came to like runny egg yolks. Growing up, I detested eggs in all forms except for scrambled or omelets. I did not like hardboiled eggs because my mother would boil them until the yolks were greyish-green. I thought that was what all hard-boiled eggs looked like. I would refuse to eat the yolks and just eat the whites. I believed I did not like runny egg yolks into my adult years. It was not until I was drunk one night at Santa Cruz Diner that I decided I needed to try runny eggs. So I got eggs over easy with pancakes and bacon. OH MY GOD. Why had I not been eating these? For a while after that I had to try everything with runny egg yolks, the most important of all was egg’s benedict. That’s right, until I was twenty-two years old I had never had egg’s benedict because I was convinced that runny egg yolks were disgusting. I was missing something very vital and important in my life until that point. People, do not be afraid of the runny yolks.

My egg in the hole today is named Don’t Let the Cat out of the Bag Eggs because I used a cat cookie cutter and the bread is the bag. What came out was pretty damn delicious, quick, and filling for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice of bread (I used California Black Bread)
  • margarine, butter, or oil (I used olive oil spray and a non-stick pan)
  • half an avocado, sliced lengthwise
  • pesto sauce
  • alfalfa sprouts

You can top your egg with anything you want or not top it at all. I bet you could make a killer hollandaise sauce to go on it or use salsa and cheese. I used to go to this coffee shop that would do the egg-in-the-hole with avocado, smoked cheddar, salsa, and your choice of Canadian bacon or bacon. It was pretty damn good and that was back when I was doing hard yolks (I’d always ask for it hard and they would look at me like I was missing a significant part of my brain).

1. Heat a skillet on medium with margarine, butter, or oil. Cut a hole in your bread. I used a cat cookie cutter, but you could use a glass. You want to use a large piece of bread not, a small piece or your egg is going overwhelm the bread. This would be a great way to use the heel of the bread because face it, no one eats the heel of the bread. Place the bread in the skillet and crack the egg into the hole. Put a lid over the skillet to cook the top of the egg.

2. When the bottom part of the egg is cooked (you will smell it, if you can’t then use a spatula to lift up and check it), flip your basket over and to cook the white. This will take very little time. Don’t forget to add your cat or circle or whatever shape you used and toast it in the skillet.

3. Carefully remove the bread and egg from the skillet. Place the alfalfa sprouts on top of the bread. On top of the alfalfa, add the avocado, salt, and pesto sauce. Then place your cat (or circle, you totally boring unimaginative person) on top to make it look like there is a dead animal on your food.

Tri-Grain Salad

Today I showed up for babysitting and my clients were not home. They had not called me or texted me or emailed me. I thought that I was supposed to come today, but the driveway gate was closed and no one answered the door when I rang. So, I had the evening off to cook. I went straight away to Staff of Life Market in the mid-town area of Santa Cruz. For the vegans and veggies out there, Staff of Life is amazing. They have vegan hot food bar choices, baked goods, and tons of supplements, flours, and starches. Amazing.

I decided I wanted to make a multi-grain, multi-pulse salad. What came out was delicious, though a little soggy. My landlord thought it even looked, smelled, and tasted great. She usually looks at my food with a big “Huh” on her face and says “oh, that looks interesting”. It was salty, sweet, tangy with a variety of textures.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 cup soft wheat berries
  • 5 medjool dates (you could use dried apricots instead)
  • 1/4 cup dried unsweetened cranberries (you could use raisins if you prefer)
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 pkg. steamed yellow corn
  • 1/4 cup millet
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • pineapple salad vinegar (use whatever vinegar you have on hand)
  • sunflower oil
  • agave nectar

1. Boil a large pot of water. While water is boiling, chop carrots, dates, and avocados. Put wheat berries and rice into pot. Let boil for five minutes. Add red lentils to the pot. Boil another five minutes. Add carrots to the pot and boil. After five minutes, add millet and boil all grains until done. Then add an egg and stir. The egg is definitely optional if you want a vegan dish.

2. While the grains are cooking, microwave steam in the bag corn. You could definitely use fresh corn and I recommend doing that, but I had the frozen corn handy. Do not use canned corn. Do not use canned corn ever. If you use canned corn I will stop speaking to you because it is revolting.

3. Add dates, corn, cranberries, avocado, and chickpeas to a large bowl. Add some salt and pepper to this mix. Add minced garlic to this mix.

4. When the grains are done cooking, drain them over the sink very very well. Like through a flour sifter. I did not do this and my salad came out a little wet. Then add them to the dried fruit and chickpea mix. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Add salad vinegar (I think this would be bomb with balsamic vinegar or rice vinegar) and sunflower oil. Mix until combined. I let mine cool a bit. I think it would be even better refrigerated. Then I added pesto on top of this and mixed.