Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Avocado

Easy Dinner Night

Ingredients for 2 servings

Avocado Dressing

2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons lower-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons avocado or canola oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 ripe peeled avocado, mashed

Tostadas

2 tablespoons avocado or canola oil, divided
2 large tortillas
1 small onion finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, sliced
1 lb lean ground beef
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled queso fresco

Directions

For the Dressing: Whisk the dressing ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate until serving.

For the tostadas: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to the pan. Cook 1 tortilla 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Repeat procedure with 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining tortilla.


Add remaining oil to the pan. Add garlic, onion, and jalapeño; sauté 2 minutes. Add beef; cook until brown. Sprinkle with taco seasoning. Continue to cook until the beef and onions are completely cooked, about 5 minutes.

To assemble: Place 1 tortilla on a dinner plate; top the tortilla with 1 cup beef mixture, ¼ cup shredded cheddar, 1/2 cup lettuce, 1/4 cup chopped tomato, and 2 tablespoons Mexican cheese. Repeat with the second tortilla. Drizzle each serving with dressing.


Tortilla Soup

The tortilla strips and the garnishes are best prepared on the day of serving. The rest of the soup can easily be prepared ahead by several days.
I make my own chipotles en adobo, so I included the recipe at the end of the post. Canned chipotles can also be used.

Makes about 9 cups, serving 6

Tortilla Strips
8 corn tortillas (6-inch), cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1 tablespoon avocado or vegetable oil
Table salt

Soup
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (total about 1 1/2 pounds)
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 medium onions (total about 1 pound), peeled, 1 cut in half and the other onion finely diced
2 cups corn kernels
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled, 2 cut in half and the other two minced
2 sprigs fresh epazote or 2 teaspoons dried ( or 8 to 10 sprigs fresh cilantro plus 1 sprig fresh oregano if you don’t have epazote)
Table salt
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 medium jalapeño chile, chopped
1 chipotle chile en adobo with 1 tablespoon adobo sauce, finely chopped

Garnishes
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 Hass avocado diced fine
8 ounces shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
Mexican crema or sour cream

Note on Epazote
Epazote is a Mexican herb with an acidic lemony flavor.
I use the dried version since fresh is not easy to find in my area.

FOR THE TORTILLA STRIPS: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread tortilla strips on rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with oil and toss until evenly coated. Bake until the strips are deep golden brown and crisp, about 14 minutes, rotating pan and shaking strips (to redistribute) halfway through the baking time. Season strips lightly with salt; transfer to plate lined with several layers paper towels. Set aside.

FOR THE SOUP: Bring the chicken breasts, broth, 1 onion halved, 2 garlic cloves cut in half, epazote, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boiling over medium-high heat in large saucepan; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is just cooked through about 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to a large plate. With a spider or slotted spoon remove the onion and garlic halves and discard them. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces; discard bones.

To the broth add the tomatoes, the chopped onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, jalapeño, corn, 1/2 teaspoon salt, chipotle chile, and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, about 15 minutes. Add shredded chicken and simmer until heated through about 5 minutes. To serve, place portions of tortilla strips in the bottom of individual bowls and ladle soup into bowls; pass garnishes separately.

 

Loaded Nacho Platter

I save leftover steak in the freezer for making dishes like nachos.

2 servings

Ingredients

1/2 pound leftover steak or lean ground beef, cooked
1 cup chopped bell peppers
3 cups tortilla chips
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup sliced jarred pickled jalapenos
2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup salsa or pico de gallo

Directions

Shred the cooked steak.
Preheat your oven to 375 F, or you can use your broiler.

Spread the 3 cups of chips over the bottom an ovenproof platter so that you can’t see the bottom of the plate.
Sprinkle1 cup cheese over the top of the chips. Evenly distribute the toppings so that every chip has some toppings.
Top with the remaining cheese. Place the platter into the oven or under the broiler.
When the cheese is melted, remove the platter from the oven and use a metal spatula to put nachos onto individual serving plates.

Homemade Chipotle Chiles en Adobo

Ingredients

12-14 dried Chipotle Chiles
3 cups of water
1/2 medium onion finely diced
6 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

Directions

 

Simmer all the ingredients in a covered pan for one hour, stirring occasionally or until the liquid reduces to about a cup.
I store the chilies in snack bags in the freezer for when I need them-1 pepper and 1 tablespoon sauce in each snack bag. They defrost very quickly. when you need them.


 

Sprouted grain bread is made from whole grains that have begun to sprout, or germinate.
The sprouting process offers several nutrition benefits, compared to bread made from unsprouted grain flours. Sprouting changes the nutritional profile of the grains, making their nutrients more readily available and possibly easier to digest. Sprouted grain bread is lower in carbs and calories and has less of an impact on blood sugar compared to other types of bread.


Sprouted grains are higher in several nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamin C, folate and beta-carotene. In addition, sprouting decreases antinutrients, making the nutrients in the grains more readily available to your body. Sprouted grains are higher in antioxidants, which help protect against chronic diseases. Eating sprouted grain bread is an easy way to increase your consumption of these powerful compounds.

Homemade Sprouted Wheat Bread

Adapted from a King Arthur recipe

Ingredients

1 cup lukewarm water
1 large egg
2 tablespoons soft butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar or brown sugar substitute
2 1/2 cups sprouted wheat flour
1/4 cup bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup any mixed nuts and seeds, (I used 1 tablespoon flaxseed, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 tablespoon hemp seeds, and 1 tablespoon bagel seasoning seeds)

Directions

Stir all the dry ingredients together with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer until combined. Add the water, egg, and butter. Mix until the ingredients are combined. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest, covered, for 30 minutes; this gives the flour a chance to absorb most of the water, which will make the dough less sticky and somewhat easier to knead.
Switch to the dough hook and knead for 4 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise until puffy, about 2 hours.
Line a long bread basket or a round bowl with parchment.
Place the dough on a lightly greased work surface, and shape it into a log (for a long loaf) or oval or round (for a round loaf).
Place the dough in the proofing pan, cover, and allow it to rise until the dough increases by about one-third, about 1 1/2 hours.

Begin preheating the oven and a covered oblong clay baker or round clay baker or Dutch oven to 500F 30 minutes before baking.
Use the parchment to move the raised dough from the proofing basket to the stone baker.

Cover the baker and bake at 500F for 20 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 450F and bake the bread covered for 7 minutes.
Then bake the bread uncovered at 450F for 7 minutes more.
The final internal temperature of the bread should be around 205F. Remove the bread from the baker to a wire cooling rack.

Avocado Toast With Over Easy Eggs

2 servings

Ingredients

4 thin slices sprouted wheat bread, toasted
1 avocado, mashed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Mash the avocado in a small bowl with a fork and add the lemon juice. Spread onto the slices of toasted bread. Sprinkle with a little salt.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil on a medium. Once hot, carefully crack the eggs, one at a time, into the oil and fry for 2 minutes or until the yolk is set. With a wide spatula, carefully turn the eggs over and cook for 1 minute.

Transfer the eggs to the top of the avocado covered toast then top with salt and pepper, to taste.


Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

Chipotle Steak Marinade (Make this one day ahead)

Makes 11/2 cups

14-ounce can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes in juice
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 canned chipotle chile en adobo, diced
½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1 flank steak (1 to 1 1/2 pounds)

Taco Herb Topping

Ingredients

½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 medium scallions, finely chopped
1 medium jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon honey or agave
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Tacos

Ingredients

Marinated flank steak in the sauce
1 tablespoon oil
Taco Herb Topping, recipe above
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, soft or crispy, warmed
Avocado slices
Grated cheddar cheese

Directions

For the Marinade

Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a small (2-quart) saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer 15 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until cold.

With a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut the steak into 1 inch by 2-inch pieces.

Pour the sauce into a plastic ziplock bag and add the steak pieces. Seal the bag and refrigerate for several hours before cooking.

For the topping

Combine all the ingredients together in a medium serving bowl and set aside.

For the steak

Heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place steak and marinade in the skillet and cook the meat for about 2 minutes. Turn the steak pieces and cook the second side for 2 minutes.

For the tacos

I like to place the tortillas in a holder. They are easy to warm in the oven and then fill. Spoon a small amount of sliced steak into the center of each warm tortilla and add a teaspoon of the prepared herb topping. Add additional topping ingredients as desired.


Avocado & Shrimp Chopped Salad

Garlic bread is a nice addition to go with this salad. Recipe below.

For 2 servings

Dressing
5 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Big pinch cayenne pepper

Salad
8 oz raw shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled and deveined
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
Juice of half a lime
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
1 ear of corn, husked and cooked
4 cups chopped green leaf lettuce
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 celery stalk, diced
1 avocado, diced
2 slices crispy cooked bacon, diced

Directions

To prepare the dressing:
Place the apple cider vinegar, cilantro, dill, shallot, garlic, dry mustard, salt, and cayenne in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk and set aside for 15 minutes. Whisk in the oil and then the sour cream. Cover the dish and refrigerate until serving time.

To prepare shrimp:
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add one teaspoon of oil and swirl it in the pan. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink. Remove to a plate.
Cut the shrimp into thirds and place in a mixing bowl. Add the diced avocado, 2 teaspoons oil, lime zest, lime juice, salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Toss gently. Cover and chill until serving time.

To prepare the salad:
Boil or microwave corn on the cob until tender, about 3 minutes. Cut the kernels off the cob and place in a salad bowl. Let cool to room temperature.
Add the bell pepper, red onion, tomatoes, celery, and bacon. Toss Add the shrimp and avocado, lettuce and dressing; gently toss to coat. Serve in individual salad bowls.

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Ingredients

6 thick slices sourdough or Italian bread
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 cup shredded Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese

directions
Place the bread on a baking sheet. Preheat the broiler or toaster oven. Or heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine the butter with garlic; mix well. Spread the butter mixture on each piece of bread and sprinkle with cheese.

Toast in a toaster oven or broil under the broiler until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown. Or bake in the oven for 5-8 minutes. Serve with the shrimp salad.


Shrimp Tacos with Tomatillo Sauce

2 servings

Tomatillo Salsa
1/2 lb. (about 8) tomatillos, husks removed and washed well
1 large or 2 small serrano chiles, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped white onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

Avocado Cream
Half an avocado mashed
1/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon honey

Shrimp
12 large raw shrimp (16-20 count), peeled, deveined and tails removed
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
4 low carb/gluten-free/regular tortillas, heated
1 cup shredded red cabbage

Directions

For the tomatillo salsa
Dice the tomatillos. Put them in a blender, along with the chiles, onion, cilantro, salt, and garlic. Pulse until the ingredients are very finely chopped and combined (the salsa should be somewhat smooth, but still have some texture), 30 to 60 seconds. Place the salsa in a large bowl. Let sit at room temperature until serving time.
Yields about 1 cup.

For the avocado cream
Combine all the ingredients and chill in the refrigerator.

For the shrimp
Pat shrimp dry. Toss the shrimp with Cajun seasoning and a little salt in a medium bowl.

Preheat a stovetop grill over medium heat. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through about 4 minutes total. Place the cooked shrimp in a serving bowl and spoon several tablespoons of the tomatillo salsa over the shrimp. Toss.and serve the shrimp in tortillas, topped with red cabbage and avocado cream.

Serve a tomato salad on the side.


 

Mexican Americans have lived in the United States for most of the country’s history. Ethnically, Mexican Americans are a diverse population, but the majority are Mestizo, which in colonial times meant to be a person of half European and half Native American ancestry. Nonetheless, the meaning of the word has changed through time and currently refers to the segment of the Mexican population who do not speak indigenous languages.

The United States is home to the second-largest Mexican community in the world, second only to Mexico itself, and comprising more than 24% of the entire Mexican population of the world. Mexican American families of indigenous heritage have been in the country for at least 15,000 years, and Mestizo Mexican American history spans more than 400 years, since the 1598 founding of Spanish New Mexico. Spanish residents of New Spain in the Southwest included New Mexican Hispanos and Pueblo Indians and Genizaros, Tejanos, Californios and Mission Indians. Approximately ten percent of the current Mexican-American population are descended from the early colonial settlers who became U.S. citizens in 1848 following the conditions of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican–American War.

Generally, when Americans speak about Mexican food, they are usually referring to Tex-Mex (or Cal-Mex) cooking, an extremely popular cuisine that follows the long border between the United States and Mexico. The food of the southwestern US state of New Mexico and the dishes of many of the Native American peoples of the southwestern US have similar names to many Tex-Mex and some Mexican dishes but they use different flavorings and cooking techniques.

Dishes like chili, fajitas, salsa, tortilla chips, chimichangas, quesadillas, burritos, and nachos are actually homegrown American inventions. Even dishes that exist in Mexico like enchiladas, tacos, and tamales are cooked and served differently in the United States. True Mexican dishes are not as spicy as many US versions. American versions of Mexican entrees add prodigious quantities of cheese, either shredded or melted, to nearly every dish, a practice rare in Mexico. The same heavy hand applies to the American use of sauces of all kinds. North of the border portions are larger, plates are filled so that the food items tend to run one into the other. In Mexico, the soft corn tortilla performs the function that bread on the table performs in the United States; it is a side starch. In the United States, fried tortillas, become an ingredient in nearly every dish.

Like most immigrant groups, Mexican Americans have remained loyal to the food traditions of their homeland. Many shops in small ethnic markets carry Mexican specialty foods. When they cook, they follow recipes handed down to them by their parents and grandparents and their cooking styles have certain things in common. Meat, usually pork or beef, is central to the diet. It is often eaten with salsa on the side. Corn, beans, rice, and root vegetables are also staples, especially sweet potatoes, yams, yucca, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, and taro. Also popular is a pear-shaped squash called chayote. Here are some Mexican American recipes for you to make at home.

Carne Asada

Carne asada means grilled beef in Spanish. The best cuts for making carne asada is Arrachera or skirt steak. It’s the taste that comes to mind when you think carne asada.

In Mexico, there are several marinating techniques that vary depending on the region of the country.
In the south and in the Gulf of Mexico area, where bitter oranges are grown, cooks will add some of its juice to the meat they are using to make Carne Asada; in other regions, they will add lime juice, and others will add a splash of beer.

Carne asada is traditionally made using a skirt or flank steak. The two cuts are very similar, but I prefer flank steak. When cutting the cooked meat, be sure to cut against the grain. It is quite easy to see the grain running through the meat in both of these cuts. It looks like long lines. Do not cut parallel to these lines, always cut perpendicular to them.

 

Carne Asada

Adapted from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef

Servings: 6
Ingredients

2 limes juiced
4 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 jalapeno minced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 pounds flank steak

Directions

In a gallon size resealable bag, combine the lime juice, crushed garlic, orange juice, cilantro, salt, pepper, olive oil, jalapeno, and vinegar. Squeeze the bag to mix it up.
Put the entire flank steak into the resealable bag. Seal it up tight. Make sure all the meat is exposed to the marinade, squashing the bag around to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight is better.
Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan over high heat.
Remove the flank steak from the marinade, and discard the excess marinade. Cook on the grill for 7 to 10 minutes per side.
Once done, remove from the heat and let rest 10 minutes. Slice against the grain, and serve.

For Carne Asada Tacos

Thinly sliced grilled flank steak
Sliced tomato
Sliced avocado
Sliced red onion
Shredded lettuce
Cotija cheese, crumbled
6 tortillas
Blood oranges, cut into eighths

Grilled or Roasted Corn On the Cob

Ingredients

4 ears corn
2 tablespoons butter (softened)
Parmesan cheese, grated
Chopped herbs (your choice)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F or use the grill when cooking the meat.
Remove husks and silks from the corn. Place the corn on sheets of foil.
Butter corn and sprinkle with herbs and Parmesan cheese. Enclose the corn in foil and press the edges to seal.
Place wrapped corn on a cookie sheet or on the grill and roast for 25-30 minutes.

Mexican Red Rice

Arroz Rojo Mexicano
Adapted from Rick Bayless, Chicago Chef

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ cups long-grain white rice
1 ¾ cups unsalted chicken broth or water
Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 1 to 2 serranos or 1 large jalapeño), stemmed and cut a slit down the side of each one
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into ¼-inch cubes
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro

Directions

Place the garlic into a blender or food processor, add the canned tomatoes and process to a smooth puree.

In a large saucepan, stir together the oil and rice. When the rice is thoroughly coated, stir in the tomato puree, broth (or water), carrots and 1 teaspoon salt. Nestle in the chiles. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. Gently stir the rice, re-cover and let the rice cook about 20 minutes. or until tender Taste a grain of rice: It should be very close to done at the core. If not, sprinkle in a little water, re-cover and cook 5 minutes more.

When the rice is done, uncover it and sprinkle in the peas and the parsley or cilantro. Use a fork to gently fluff the rice, reaching all the way to the edges of the bottom, to release steam and slow the cooking. Re-cover, let stand 5 minutes.

Black Beans with Chiles

Ingredients

1 pound dried black beans
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
2 whole serrano chiles or 1 jalapeño chile
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Rinse beans. Place beans in a large bowl. Cover with water by several inches. Let soak overnight.
Place oil, onion, and carrot in a Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until the onion is tender. Drain beans and add to the Dutch Oven. Add whole chiles, cumin, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 hour. Uncover and simmer until beans are very tender, about 15 minutes more.



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