::Guacamole Salad…Sans Dressing!::

First of all, I promise that this recipe is easy.  It is one of those things that you sample in Publix, then take the recipe card that pretending you’ll go gather all the ingredients, but really is lost by the time you pull into your driveway. Only this time, the recipe card has come in handy many times in the past few years. Thank you Apron’s Simple Meals.

The beauty of this salad is that it’s flavorful, but has no dressing.  Virtually all of the calories come from the avocado.  With no fat from dressing, and only “good fat” from the avocados, you can truly enjoy this recipe guilt-free. If you’re interested in learning about the nutrients found in avocados, refer to my guacamole recipe.

What you will need:

  • Cutting Board
  • Large & Small Knife
  • Large Salad Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 Sprigs Fresh Cilantro, Rinsed
  • 1 Jalepeno pepper
  • 1 Small Tomato
  • 1/2 Cup Onion, Diced
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Pepper
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Cumin (Optional)
  • 2-3 Medium Ripe Avocados
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 Head Iceberg Lettuce:  I buy a head of lettuce and cut it really thin so that it is shredded.  You can also buy this in a bag preshredded, but it is a little bit more expensive.

Instructions:

Chop the cilantro coarsely. Add to the salad bowl.

Cut the jalepeno pepper in half and remove the seeds. Finely chop the pepper and place in the bowl.

Dice the tomato. Add to the bowl.

Add the diced onion, salt, pepper, and cumin to the bowl. Stir or toss until thoroughly dispersed.

Cut the avocados up into bite sized pieces. Add to the bowl.

  • I cut the avocado in half lengthwise down to the pit. Then I twist the two pieces in opposite directions so the come apart. I then remove the pit and skin and dice.

Add the diced onion, salt, pepper, and cumin to the bowl. Stir until each element is thoroughly dispersed.

Combine everything except the lettuce and lime juice, and mix them together so that they will distribute evenly when you toss the salad.

Add the lettuce.

Squeeze the juice from half of the lime over the salad. Toss & Serve.

  • You may want to keep the other half of the lime to slice and use as a garnish when serving. This way, guests can also add more lime juice if so desired.

    This is especially great on a hot day by the pool...just a suggestion!

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.::Crustless Quiche with Cheese & Veggies::.

Dear NurseAbby College Cook! Followers,

I am sorry that it has been so long since my last post.  With the tumult of graduation and planning the next chapter of my life, I have been slacking in the blogging department.  I am happy to say, I have most of my summer planned and am excited for what the fall has to bring!

Please accept this new creation as a symbol of my apologies. My mom and I cooked this up tonight after trying to figure out what to do with some vegetables nearing their demise. I have to admit, she did all the work. With what we had in the house, we finally decided that a crustless quiche was our best option.

Quiche is typically a baked mixture of eggs and cream inside of a pastry crust. To make a healthier interpretation, we chose to forgo the crust and used fat-free half and half to skimp on the calories.  The egg mixture was then filled with fresh veggies and cheese. The result was pretty tasty!

What you will need:

  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Whisk
  • Medium Sized Pan
  • Spatula
  • Oven Safe Baking or Pie Dish

Ingredients:

  • 5 Eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Fat-Free Half & Half
  • 1/2 Cup Mushrooms, Sliced or Coarsely Chopped
  • 1/4 Large Onion, Chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, Chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Cheese, Shredded or Chopped: We used a combination of Swiss and Havarti.
  • Olive Oil Cooking Spray
  • Salt, Pepper, and Nutmeg

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325°Fahrenheit.

Coat the pan and baking dish with the olive oil cooking spray.

Like I said, my mom did most of the work!

Eggs + this--can't be bad.

Sauté the mushrooms and onions over medium heat until soft.  You may find it necessary to also spray the vegetables.

While the vegetables are cooking, whisk together the eggs and half & half.  Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Pour the egg mixture into the baking dish. Add the sautéed vegetables, cherry tomatoes, and cheese. Lightly stir to evenly disperse.

Bake for about 50 minutes or until set.

I've been waiting eagerly, as I had to increase the baking time a bit...

Enjoy with a salad, bagel, or all by its lonesome!

Till next time.

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Simple Snack:::Homemade Caramel Corn

This caramel corn, modified from AllRecipes.com, is tasty, super quick to make, and will fully satisfy your next sweet-and-salty craving.  It’s perfect for your next movie night or study session!  I was supposed to be finishing up one of my last undergrad assignments, but Ilana convinced me that the eligible bachelors of Millionaire Matchmaker were far more important. At least a new, yummy snack came out of our procrastination?

If you want to take this recipe a bit further, try adding peanuts, cashews, or M&M’s just before letting it cool.

What you will need:

  • Large, Microwave Safe Bowl
  • Mixing Spoon
  • Baking Sheet, Greased or Lined with Wax Paper

Ingredients:

  • 2 Bags Popped Butter Popcorn: I used the nearly fat-free kind and you couldn’t tell the difference.
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
  • 1/4 Cup Butter: No substitutions! The fake stuff won’t cook up the same way!
  • 1/4-1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda

Instructions:

In the bowl, microwave the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt for 1 minute.

Stir & microwave for an additional 2 minutes.

Add the vanilla extract and baking soda. The mixture will expand when the soda is added.

Add the popcorn and stir thoroughly, making sure to get all of the caramel from the bottom of the bowl. When I make this, about a cup of the popcorn falls out while stirring. Don’t bother replacing it.

Microwave for 3 minutes, removing every minute to stir.

If desired, add the additional mix-ins, then spread on the baking sheet to cool.

MMmmMmm!!!

In 5 minutes or less the caramel should harden so that it is no longer sticky. Return to the bowl and dig in!

Ilana, gotta love her!

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Ay ChiHuaHua!::ENCHILADAS!:::

I know it’s not appropriate to brag, but I just can’t help it! I thought these enchilada’s were truly delicious.  I’ve never cooked Mexican, not even a taco night, so why I chose to make enchiladas is still a mystery to me.  I’m not going to go on about the blending of the flavors or the health benefits of the ingredients. What I will say is, if you’re in the mood for Mexicana cuisine, make these!

What you will need:

  • Medium Saucepan
  • Large Saucepan
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • 9 x 13 inch baking dish
  • Grill: I used a George Foreman grill to cook the chicken, but any method is fine if a grill is not available.
  • Large Mixing Spoon: The mixing spoon should not be slotted, as you will be using it to transfer liquidy mixtures. If you have 2 non slotted mixing spoons, even better!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 Chicken Breasts: If you’re making the dish for vegetarians, I think that black beans, tofu, or tempeh would be an appropriate substitute, just make sure they’re drained.
  • Medium Yellow Onion
  • 1 TBSP Butter
  • 1 Bunch Green Onions
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Mushrooms
  • 1/4-1/2 Cup Red, Yellow, or Orange Bell Pepper
  • 1 Packet Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Can Chopped Green Chilis
  • 1 Can Enchilada Sauce
  • 13 Ounces Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken Soup: The soup I used was not condensed. I used about 3/4 of an 18 ounce package. I would guess that one can of Condensed Cream of Mushroom soup would serve the same purpose.
  • 1 1/4 Cup Sour Cream
  • 3 Dashes Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 5 Flour Tortillas (12 Inch Diameter)
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Can Sliced Olives
  • 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese

**The cooked vegetables blend together, and picky eaters won’t be able to discriminate one from the other (ex: Bobby hates mushrooms).  Just don’t tell them!

For some of you, a Corona should probably be included in this picture.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

If the chicken breasts are not already cooked, begin grilling them.

Wash the vegetables.

Melt the butter in the larger saucepan. Chop the onion. Cook the onion until it softens.

While the onion and chicken are cooking, dice the pepper and coarsely chop the mushrooms and green onions.

When the chicken is cooked, shred it. I cut it into bite sized pieces and then ripped those up a bit.

Add the chicken, peppers, mushrooms, green onions, green chilis, and water, and 1/2 the taco seasoning to the onions. Stir and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.

The filling is a soupy mixture of seasoned chicken and vegetables.

Meanwhile, combine the soup, sour cream, hot sauce, garlic powder, and 1/2 TBSP taco seasoning in the other saucepan. Bring to a simmer.

The ingredients in this mixture also become unidentifiable. Grant, who hates sour cream, didn't even know there was any in this dish.

Add 1 cup of the soup mixture to the chicken mixture and allow to simmer for another few minutes.

Spread the remaining soup evenly in the bottom of the baking pan.

One by one, fill each tortilla. Put a spoonful of the chicken mixture and a sprinkle of cheese in each, then fold the sides to create a pocket and set into the pan. Remember to keep enough cheese to cover the top of the pan.

After folding opposite sides in, fold the others.

The tortilla may get soft if you don't complete this process quickly enough, so after you fill each one, move it to the pan.

When the tortillas are filled, pour the enchilada sauce evenly over the pan and each tortilla pocket.

Cover with cheese. Top with black olives and/or chopped green onions if desired.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling.

I forgot to take a picture before digging in, but you can get the idea from this.

Got Grant's Seal-of-Approval.

Paul drove all the way from Orlando just for an Enchilada (and the Swamp/GatorCity/Balls experience)

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OooOOoo LA LA!:::White Chocolate Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée: A French dessert consisting of a custard base with a hard caramel top.  Traditionally, the dessert is served warm; however, in North America it is frequently served cold.

Though the original vanilla variety is delicious with no adjustments, I decided to try making a white chocolate variety. Crème brûlée is often flavored with coffee, lemon or orange zest, ginger, liqueurs, and fruit.  My roommate has even made an autumn inspired pumpkin crème brûlée!

Aside from a few simple ingredients, you will also need individual ramekins. A ramekin is a glass or ceramic dish used to serve various desserts, cheese, and egg dishes.  They are a simple way to serve individual sized portions and are great to have on hand when serving garnishes and condiments.  Ramekins may be purchased at very inexpensive prices, though fancier varieties are available.

BIA Cordon Bleu Wavy Ramekin, Target, $9.99 for a set of 4

I made one mistake when serving this. Because I don’t have a kitchen torch to make the topping, I used the broiler. I should have chilled the custard longer following the topping, so that the custard underneath would be more firm.  This, however, is a personal preference. If you like the custard warm, and loose, serve immediately.

What you will need:

  • Medium Saucepan
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Bowl
  • Whisk
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Ramekins
  • 9 x 13 Inch Baking Dish

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • 4 Egg Yolks, Room Temperature
  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Oz. White Chocolate
  • Extra Sugar for Topping

Just a few ingredients in this delicate dessert!

Directions:

In the mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth.

Whisk the yolks and sugar together until the mixture is smooth.

In the saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat.

While the cream is heating up, chop the white chocolate into small pieces.

Chop the white chocolate into small pieces so that it melts into the cream.

Once the cream is simmering, turn off the heat and add the chocolate while whisking continuously, until smooth.

Once the cream is simmering, turn off the heat and whisk the chocolate in until smooth.

While whisking, add a small amount of the cream and chocolate mixture. This will prevent the egg yolks from scrambling.

  • Now, here is the tricky part. If you are by yourself, you will need to figure out a way to hold the mixing bowl, whisk, and pour at the same time. I used a measuring up. The handle of the cup was small enough that I could pour from it and steady the bowl with one hand while whisking with the other.

Add the remaining cream mixture and whisk till smooth.

Place the ramekins in the 9 x 13 inch pan. Fill each.

Fill the pan with about 1 1/2 inches of water so that the ramekins are baking in a water bath.

  • A water bath is often used to bake delicate foods, such as custards, souffles, and cheesecakes. The temperature of water cannot rise above 212°F, so this ensures that the dessert will bake in gentle heat.  The outside of each dish is surrounded by the lower heat, preventing the edges from over cooking, while heat is still able to reach the center.  This allows the dish to bake evenly and the texture to remain smooth.

Be careful when adding the water into the pan. I recommend using a measuring cup or other pouring tool.

Bake at 300°F for 45 minutes, or until the custards have set. They should not look jiggly when moved or touched.

Remove from the water bath and chill for at least three hours, up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Top with a thin layer of sugar.

Before serving, top the custard with a thin layer of sugar and broil or torch. This makes the burnt sugar topping and is an essential part of crème brûlée.

Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the top or broil for about 4 minutes, or until the sugar has melted.

Use your spoon to crack the topping and reveal the smooth center.

Serve immediately or allow to rechill for about 30 minutes.

Bon Appétit!

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.::Ginger Tofu (or Chicken) with Pineapple and Peppers::.

This was my first try at making a real tofu dish, and I must say, I am so happy with it!  I can’t wait to make it again.  The tofu was a little bit crispy on the outside, and the sauce was light and flavorful.  While it was my first legitimate tofu adventure, it was also my first try cooking with fresh ginger.  I bought ginger root, peeled it, and minced it.  The flavor and aroma was fabulous. I’ve been so addicted, I’ve used it three times since!

Best about this recipe is that its a quick and healthy main dish.  Since pineapple, peppers, and onions are cooked in it, side dishes are not required. If you’d like, I would recommend serving it over brown rice.  I used firm, lite tofu.  I like firm tofu better, and in my little experience, it holds shape better when cooking.  My rational for using light tofu was to cut on calories and fat.  Since tofu, regardless of the fat content, doesn’t really have a flavor, I don’t see a downside.

I used one whole package of Nasoya Lite Firm Tofu. Tofu, which is made from soybeans, can be a major asset to vegetarians or those who do not eat beef. The entire pack has 160 calories, 28 grams of protein, and just 6 grams of fat. It is also a good source of vitamins A, E, and B12, calcium, and iron. In case you’re interested, it’s also organic!

Nasoya Lite Firm Tofu, available at Publix and other organic-friendly grocers.

What you will need:

  • Cutting Board
  • Large Sauce Pan
  • Knife
  • Paper Towels
  • Large Spoon
  • Fork or Spatula: Use whatever is easiest to flip the tofu while browning it.

Ingredients:

  • I didn’t measure exactly while making this recipe, sorry! You may need to add more liquid or sugar to the sauce because the following are guesstimates!
  • One Package Lite Firm Tofu: I strongly recommend trying tofu if you never have. Picky eaters may be wary at first, but with an open mind I am confident they will come around. If you’re really opposed to the idea, chicken or beef may be used with a few minor adjustments.
  • 1 TBSP Fresh Ginger Root, Chopped
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 8 Oz Can Pineapple Tidbits
  • 3 Tsp Sesame or Vegetable Oil
  • 5 Tsp Rice Vinegar
  • 2 TBSP Lite Soy Sauce
  • 2 TBSP Ketchup
  • 1 TBSP Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Cup Corn Meal: I made this for Passover so used Matzo Meal.
  • 1 TBSP Brown Sugar
  • 3+ TBSP Pineapple Juice from Can

Directions:

Open and drain the tofu. Put it on a plate and cut it horizontally into two thin patties. Place a folded paper towel underneath, between, and on top of the tofu. Place a bowl or heave object on top. This drains the water from the tofu and helps it become crispy when cooking. If the towels become saturated, repeat this process.

It looks funny, but pulling the moisture from the tofu will help the edges become crisp and brown.

Cut the onion into slices and the pepper into thin strips.

Mince 1 TBSP each of fresh garlic and ginger root. (Peel the root to reveal the moist center.)

Remove the towels from the tofu and slice it into strips 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

In a bowl, mix together the vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, and brown sugar. Taste and add more sugar or liquid if necessary.

Mix the sauce in a bowl and allow the tofu to marinate.

Add the tofu to the sauce and let marinate for 5 minutes or more.

Place the corn meal on a plate. Remove each piece of tofu, dredge if through the crumbs, and set aside.

Heat the oil. Add the tofu to the pan and cook on both sides until brown. This takes between 5 and 10 minutes.

Brown the tofu in hot oil, then move to a paper towel to absorb the excess.

Remove the tofu and place on a paper towel.

Pour any excess oil out of the pan. Add the sauce, vegetables, garlic, and ginger to pan. Cook until the vegetables soften, then add the pineapple.

Ginger, garlic, soy, and vinegar pack a lot of flavor with no fat and very few calories.

Add the tofu, cook for a few minutes, and serve!

Only 2 guests were vegetarians. While people frequently turn up their noses to tofu, even the carnivores gave it a whirl.

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Auntie Sheryl’s Chili Sauce Brisket:::

This recipe came from a dear family friend who I like to refer to as my “Auntie Sheryl”. Until she had daughters of her own, I was happy to fill in! This recipe is pretty easy, and as mentioned before, brisket is hard to mess up too badly.  As long as you keep the meat moist while cooking, the result should be pretty tasty. I made this recipe a couple years ago, and again for Passover. Both times it was well received. I would recommend this recipe over my barbecue brisket if you’re a beginner.

This recipe will feed 10 or more people, depending on what you are serving with it. If you’re cooking for 4, buy a smaller piece of meat and scale down the other ingredients proportionally. That being said, the leftovers of this were great!

What you will need:

  • Disposable Roasting Pan or Pyrex Baking Dish
  • Tin Foil
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Cutting Board
  • Large Knife

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 5 Lb Beef Brisket
  • 3 Sweet Onions
  • 6 Packages Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix
  • 3 Bottle’s Chili Sauce: I have always used Heinz brand. It’s usually near the ketchup in a similar looking bottle.
  • 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar

Directions:

Slice the onions. Cover the bottom of the pan with a thick layer.

The onions will soften and absorb the flavor of the sauce. They are a delicious complement to the brisket!

Place the brisket on top of the onions.

In a bowl, combine the soup mix, chili sauce, and brown sugar.

Spread on top of the brisket.

This pan was too small for the huge piece of meat I bought. It worked fine, but a larger pan would have stopped any sauce from leaking out.

Cover tightly with foil.

Bake for 3-4 four hours at 350°F until tender.

Check the brisket periodically, making sure it is covered in the sauce.

Slice the meat, then return to the pan. Bake for another hour or so.

  • If you’re short on time, you can make this ahead of time and freeze it. Bake it, slice it, then replace it to the pan and cover tightly. Freeze. The night before serving, remove to the refrigerator. The following day bake for an additional 1-2 hours.
  • If desired, during the last 1 1/2 hours of baking, add fresh or canned white potatoes or carrots.  The original recipe calls for this, but I always omit.

Dinner at my house with some of my "aunties" (blood and not)

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