It’s that time of year when the avocados are ripe, delicious, and usually not $3 each. I love avocados. We add them to salads and sandwiches. (I’ll be sharing an avocado chicken salad in a few weeks.) With these magic green things, I create a guacamole that does not last long. It is simple, fresh, and addictive. Perfect as a starter to your fajita or taco night. This amazing guacamole is a staple for any summer get together. To Avocados! –AF
3 ripe avocados (must be ripe)
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
1 T fresh lime juice
1 t salt
freshly ground black pepper
Cut each avocado in half and remove seed from avocado. Scoop out avocado pulp into a large bowl. Mash avocado until desired consistency. I like to leave small chucks in my guacamole. Add tomatoes, onions, jalapeño, salt, and lime juice. Stir until avocado mixture is blended. Top with black pepper. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
Everyone has an opinion about sauerkraut. As a child I could not stand the smell of the stuff. But I have grown and my tastes have changed. This is an easy dish that you create and let it do its thing. The paprika and caraway seeds have a way of transforming the sauerkraut into a delicious masterpiece. Enjoy! -AF
Pork Chops and Sauerkraut
4 (1/2-inch-thick) pork chop (I use boneless, but bone-in is fine)
1 T vegetable oil
1 (14 oz.) can sauerkraut
1 1/2 t caraway seeds
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 t paprika
In heavy skillet, heat oil. Then brown pork chops on both sides.
Top with sauerkraut and tomato sprinkle with caraway and paprika. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 40 minutes or until chops are tender. I check on this dish to make sure the heat is not too high.
It is really simple! Everyone loves a comfort meal. I’m not the biggest meatloaf fan. It’s okay but it does not stop the mixer for me. Let me paint the mood: A couple of weeks ago, it was rainy, gray, and cold. The kind of day that I wanted to stay under a blanket instead of cooking. It was a day for warm comfort food. Investigating my refrigerator and pantry, I uncovered the perfect ingredients for a basic meatloaf. Bonus, I had potatoes for mashing! Verdict: The meatloaf was a hit and I will definitely make again. Enjoy! -AF
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 1/4 t salt
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 oz. canned diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup ketchup
2 T brown sugar
1 T prepared mustard
Mix all meatloaf ingredients well and place in a baking dish. Shape into a loaf. Mix all topping ingredients and spread on loaf.
Bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees.
This week my mom came to visit. Our first visitor to our new home and state. One evening for dessert, she whipped up her banana pudding. A couple things to understand: (1) My mother’s daughter (me) does not like bananas in her banana pudding. (2) Since I was young, my mother made banana pudding just a little differently compared to others just to please her daughter. Yes, you will notice that she uses vanilla pudding instead of banana pudding. And you will notice that two separate containers are prepared. One container with bananas and one delightful dish containing NO bananas. Simple and Easy! Yes, it might be weird but I’m the girl who loves banana pudding without bananas… and no, it’s not just vanilla pudding with vanilla wafers to me! -AF
Nana’s Banana Pudding
1 cup cold milk
2 cups half and half
1 can Eagle brand milk
1 large pkg. (5.1 oz) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip Whipped Topping , thawed
30 vanilla wafer cookies
3 bananas, sliced
Pour milk into large bowl. Add pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes. Let stand 3 minutes. Gently stir in whipped topping.
Line the bottom and sides of your serving bowl(s) with vanilla wafters. Choices are to be made here. Do you want a big container or individual containers? My mom makes two larger containers. (one with bananas, one without bananas) Now, top wafers with bananas. Then top with of the pudding mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Prior to serving sprinkle banana pudding with crush vanilla wafers.
In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to share my favorite GREEN drink. I began juicing about one year ago. For weeks I did my homework on the best juicer and felt confident in my Breville purchase. There is nothing like making a yummy, energizing juice to start your day. By experimenting, you will find the veggies and fruits you love the best. There is a ton of recipes and ideas that can get you started. I LOVE my green drink- super healthy and gets me going for the day. On a mommy note: William loves me to juice up an apple/grape juice. So yummy and no yuck preservatives. And little does he know that it has a whole head of broccoli in it too! Mommy tricks are the best!
I encourage you to get out there and juice something delicious. -AF
Amanda’s Green Drink
1 head of broccoli
1 bunch of kale
1 head of celery
1 inch size of ginger root, skin peeled
1 lemon (remove rind)
Wash all veggies before juicing. Combine all ingredients in a juicer. This makes approximately 24 ounces.
Final Course: And for dessert… I was inspired that Oreo Cookies and Chris shared the same birthday week. It was easy to settle on these mini treats. I made the Oreo Truffles early in the day and honestly it did not take long. Oreo Truffles were a perfect way to end the birthday dinner. Added bonus- we enjoyed truffles for several days. I enjoyed my day in the kitchen preparing a birthday dinner for the man I would marry again. Love you, Chris! -AF
1 package of Oreos
1 package of cream cheese, softened
white and milk chocolate almond bark
Put all Oreos in a ziplock bag and crush into small pieces, almost powder. Place Oreos and cream cheese in mixer. Blend until the mixture is consistent throughout. Roll the mixture into small balls. Place Oreo balls on a plate covered with wax paper. Put the Oreo balls in the freezer.
After at least two hours, the Oreo balls are ready to dip in chocolate.
Melt four or five squares of almond bark (your choice of white or milk chocolate) in a microwave safe container and stir with a fork, making sure all of the chocolate is melted. Begin by taking out a few Oreo balls out at a time. Dip the balls in the chocolate, making sure the surface is covered. (I used a cake tester to dip the Oreo balls- work fast!)
Melt the opposite colored almond bark in the microwave. Using a fork to drizzle the melted chocolate over the drying truffles that were dipped in first chocolate.
Get creative. Divide the Oreo balls in half. Dip one half in milk chocolate and the other half in white chocolate.
I feel that the white chocolate Oreo Balls allow you to taste the true Oreo flavor.
Great "Pick-me-up" treat for teachers or friends!
I am not a fan of trying a new recipe out on an important occasion. It makes me nervous. I feel that my recipes should be tried and true. But with basil, avocados, and garlic, how can you go wrong! The linguine was a success and will be repeated in the future. If you love pesto, this is your meal. On to dessert! -AF
Linguine with Pesto Avocado Cream
1 pound linguine
1 bunch fresh basil, reserve some leaves for garnish
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 avocados, pitted and peeled
2 T lemon juice, freshly squeezed
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add linguine and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the pesto by combining basil, pine nuts, avocados, lemon juice, garlic and oil in a food processor. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss pasta with pesto. Divide pasta among serving plates and sprinkle cherry tomatoes over linguine. To complete, garnish each serving with a basil leaf.
Our second course to the birthday celebration was a salad that Chris always orders when we go out. He loves beet salad. This was my first attempt at beet salad but I thought I’m an educated girl, I can take this on. And to be completely honest, I NAILED it! I will admit it was easy with no thought required. Chris was impressed and pleased with his second course. Definitely a creation I will make again. Totally a winning situation when you can make a favorite creation at home! -AF
The Fuller Beet Salad
4 medium beets,(red or golden) stems and root ends removed*
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1 T balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 T sunflower seed oil
2 oz. goat cheese
Wrap each beet in foil. Roast until soft, about 1 hour. Cool slightly and remove foil. Rub off skins. Cut the beets into wedges.
While beets are roasting, in a small bowl, walnuts with vinegar and set aside.
Toss beets with walnut/vinegar mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add sunflower seed oil and toss together.
Divide beets among 4 salad plates. Crumble goat cheese on top.
*I used red beets this time. Be careful with their stain. I’m thinking golden is better for entertaining, etc.
I LOVE birthdays! It is a perfect time to celebrate and of course, cook. Today it was time to celebrate Chris. William and I whipped up a four course meal fit for our king. After consulting various cookbooks and notes, our menu was filled with his favorites. I will be sharing all four courses over the next few days.
Our first course started with Caprese Skewers. These bite size appetizers made it easy to mingle and make casual talk about the day. Chris loves the combination of tomato, basil, and mozzarella. The drizzle of a balsamic vinaigrette completes the taste.
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T + 1 t extra virgin olive oil
1/4 t ground black pepper, divided
1/8 t kosher salt
12 small mozzarella balls
24 grape tomatoes
24 small to medium leaves of fresh basil
Cut the mozzarella balls in half. In a small bowl, toss mozzarella with the 1 t of olive oil and 1/8 t of the pepper. Set aside to allow the mozzarella to absorb the flavors.
In another small bowl create a vinaigrette by whisking together balsamic vinegar, remaining 1 T of olive oil, 1/8 t pepper, and kosher salt. This vinaigrette will be brushed on the skewers, once assembled.
Slide 1 grape tomato onto a toothpick. Fold 1 basil leaf in half; pierce with toothpick and slide up to the tomato. Slide 1 mozzarella piece onto the toothpick. Continue assembling skewers laying them on serving plate.
Once all skewers are assembled, brush them with the balsamic vinaigrette.
Cover until serving.
Oh my goodness! It’s clear that my house loves peanut butter and chocolate. The combination of these two heavenly ingredients turn this dessert into a rich, decadent treat. I will admit it was hard not to devour the complete pan while the boys were out. Sorry! No one needs that visual! Seriously, enjoy your delicious square of goodness and then do 100 push-ups (on your toes) or just say you did. -AF
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
1 (18.25) package plain yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 T butter, melted
2 t vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine cake mix, butter, peanut butter, and eggs in a large bowl using a mixer or spoon. Press this into a 9X13 pan reserving 1 1/2 cup of the mixture to crumble on top. In a small pan, melt chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Spread chocolate mixture over the mixture pressed in the pan and then crumble the 1 1/2 cups of reserved cake mixture on top evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bars.
Look at that pan of goodness