Chipotle Guacamole

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Chipotle as in the smoked jalapeno pepper, not the restaurant. (Just to be clear.) We eat lots and lots of guacamole. Most often I mash a ripe avocado with some red salsa and voila! guacamole. But this is my new favorite recipe for when I want to put forth more effort. Originally I added an ear of fresh corn but didn’t love it. (More of a personal preference. If you love sweet corn, you might prefer it.) I did love the chipotle flavor so on my second attempt I used a red onion instead for crunch and thought it was perfect.

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Chipotle Guacamole

INGREDIENTS

2 large ripe avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 plum tomato, seeded and diced
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
3-4 Tbsp. chopped red onion
1 canned chipotle chile*, finely chopped (I used a medium chipotle for mild spice, feel free to add more)
1 Tbsp. sour cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

optional add-in: 1 ear fresh corn

DIRECTIONS

1. Mash avocados with lime juice in medium bowl. Stir in tomato, garlic, cilantro, and onions. Combine chipotle and sour cream in small bowl; whisk to blend. Stir cream mixture into avocado mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Do ahead: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Place plastic wrap directly onto surface of guacamole and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

*Chipotle chiles are dried, smoked jalapeños canned in adobo sauce. They are available at some supermarkets, at specialty foods stores, and at Latin markets. Leftovers can be frozen for a long time.

(Adapted from Bon Appetit)

By in Appetizer, Southwestern ·

Thai Cucumber Salad

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We eat a lot of cucumbers around here. Clara is happy to munch on them with hummus or one of our other favorite dips (Trader Joe’s Cilantro Chive Yogurt Dip or this spicy Chipotle Ranch mixed with some nonfat Greek Yogurt to lighten it up). And cucumbers find their way into just about every green salad or veggie sandwich I make. This crunchy cucumber + red onion + cilantro (or mint) + peanut (or cashew!) salad with a tangy rice wine vinaigrette would complement most Asian, Indian, or Middle-eastern dishes. I served it with this cheater’s coconut curry sauce simmered with rotisserie chicken over rice.

Thai Cucumber Salad

INGREDIENTS

2 medium English cucumbers, sliced
3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or mint)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
2 small or 1 large clove garlic, minced
pinch crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (or minced jalapeno)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2-3 tbsp. crushed peanuts (or cashews)

DIRECTIONS

1. Whisk vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, and garlic together in a medium bowl. Place cucumbers, onion, and cilantro (or mint) in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with peanuts and serve.

Serves 4.

(Adapted from Bon Appetit)

By in Appetizer, Asian, Salad, Vegetables ·

Chipotle Salsa

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What I love about this salsa: It uses chipotle peppers, as in smoked jalapenos that come from a can (you can freeze what you don’t use for later). Also from a can- the tomatoes (fire-roasted for the best flavor), which means you can make it any time of year. And then it requires hardly any chopping at all as you throw everything in the blender/food-processor and let it do the work for you. It’s also completely customizable as far as texture (smooth or chunky), acidity (lots of vinegar or a little), and heat (just increase the peppers). Amazing on tacos or for dipping quesadillas and chips in (our new favorite tortillas chips). It’ll keep for about a week in the fridge and would be awesome canned in little jars to give as gifts, though I’ve yet to ever do this.

Chipotle Salsa

INGREDIENTS

1 (14.5 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 -3 canned chipotle chiles in adobo (two for medium heat, three for hot)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
2 -3 Tbsp. cider vinegar (I used 2 Tbsp.)

DIRECTIONS

1. Combine tomatoes and remaining ingredients in food processor or blender and pulse until well combined (pulse less for a chunky salsa, longer for a smooth salsa). Adjust seasonings (salt, pepper, and vinegar) to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

(Adapted from Food.com)

By in Appetizer, Southwestern, Uncategorized ·

Vegetable Pot Stickers

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I don’t know what has gotten into me, but I’ve been on an ethnic food kick (mostly Asian or Mediterranean in this kitchen lately) and I’d bookmarked about 10 dumpling/pot sticker/wonton/whatever-you-want-to-call-them recipes. Well, I finally made some to serve with that Sweet and Sour Stir-fried Pork and Pineapple I posted last and we loved the pot stickers just as much as the pork dish. These dumplings are easy because they’re stuffed full of veggies. They require a little chopping but no messy meat or worry about them being cooked through. And they’re addictive. So much flavor in such a small package. Without meat. It’s possible.

This makes quite a few pot stickers, so, if like us, you’re only serving a few, just freeze the uncooked leftovers and save for later. For us, later was the next day. But they were just as good after a night in the freezer. (Defrost and cook as usual.) I recommend a dipping sauce of 2 parts soy sauce to 1 part vinegar (or more vinegar, to taste) and some hot/sweet chili sauce. Maybe some scallions or ginger or sesame oil thrown in as well. Something to dip them in is essential.

Vegetable Pot Stickers

INGREDIENTS

2 tsp. canola oil
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 cup white cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrot, shredded
1 cup garlic sprouts or chives (I used 1/2 cup chives and added 1 large clove garlic, minced)
~1/4 tsp. white pepper, to taste (black pepper can be substituted)
salt, to taste
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 package wonton wrappers (also called gyoza)
canola oil, for frying (optional)

dipping sauce:
2:1 ratio soy sauce (I used low-sodium) to rice vinegar (or more vinegar, to taste)
add-ins of your choice: fresh grated ginger, hot or sweet chili sauce, sesame oil, scallions, etc.

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large skillet or wok heat 2 tsp. canola oil over medium heat. Add the red onion and ginger and saute until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, and chives and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender and have released their moisture. Season with white pepper (or freshly ground black pepper) and salt to taste. Remove from the heat and place in a colander to drain. Once cooled, stir in the sesame oil and cilantro.

2. Using the wonton wrappers, make half moon dumplings, keeping the bottom flat and sealing the edges with water or egg. (This method might be helpful.)

3. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the bottom in a thin layer of oil. Add the dumplings and cook until the bottoms begin to brown. Add 1/4 cup water and immediately cover with a lid. Steam the dumplings until the water has evaporated and they are warmed through. The bottoms will get crispy again and stick to the pot. Serve hot with sauce for dipping.

Makes about 30 pot stickers.

(Adapted from Food.com)

By in Appetizer, Asian, Vegetarian ·

Baked Goat Cheese with Cranberries, Pistachios, and Honey

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I made this cranberry and pistachio-coated goat cheese log for a little Christmas party we held before departing Chicago. And then again this week to share with our family. Yes, because it’s festive and simple, but mostly because we can’t stop eating it. The key ingredient is the honey drizzled on top just as it comes out of the oven. Serve it warm (to the point that it’s soft, but not melted into a puddle on the plate- this would still taste great but not look as pretty) with crackers and bread and be in love.

Baked Goat Cheese with Cranberries, Pistachios, and Honey

INGREDIENTS

log goat cheese
chopped pistachios (I used dry roasted and unsalted)
sweetened dried cranberries
honey, for drizzling
crackers and/or sliced baguette, for serving

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll goat cheese log in pistachios and cranberries to coat. (You’ll have to be forceful to get them all to stick.)

2. Place log on an oven safe baking dish (a sheet pan lined with parchment paper works great) and bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes (time will vary with the size of your log), until warmed but not melted.

3. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey. Serve warm with crackers or baguette.

(Adapted from Cookie Monster Cooking)

By in Appetizer ·