Spicy, Lime-y, Cilantro-y, Chunky Guacamole

I looked in my refrigerator yesterday and freaked out over all the container-filled left over foods.  Usually that’s a good thing right?  Most people probably wouldn’t get stressed out over left overs.  In fact, most people probably think it’s a good thing to have left overs.  But I have a fear of left over foods.  It all started when I moved away for Pharmacy school.  My parents would come visit me in San Francisco and would stock my refrigerator with good ol’ Mom’s home cooking.  It was truly a great and generous thing that they did.  I think they thought I was starving and/or didn’t have enough time to cook for my own.  Little did they know that I gained a lot of weight partying, and eating.  Anyhow, after they went back home, I would freak out about all the foods that I would have to eat before it spoiled.  I grew tired of left overs after 3-4 days of straight left overs.  It wasn’t even an enjoyment.  It was just a process of shoveling food down my mouth for lunch and dinner.  And trust me, I LOOOOOOOOVE my parents’ cooking!  I also hate wasting food period.  Wow.  I just went off on a tangent.

I had a lot of cilantro from over the weekend that I didn’t know what to do with.  I also had a lot of limes, tomatoes, and avocados hanging out on my kitchen counter waiting to be hacked up for my weekly sandwich wraps for work.  But the avocados and tomatoes were getting just a little ripe, and I knew I wouldn’t eat the tomatoes because I hate mushy tomatoes.  It’s true.  The texture is just gross.  Luckily, I found half of a red onion in a tupperware container in the refrigerator, and decided to make guacamole… the perfect way to NOT waste these ingredients!

Just a side note, do you remember how expensive avocados were about a decade ago or more?  I was just reminiscing recently how expensive some fruit and vegetable items were and how difficult they were to find at times.  I used to beg my parents to spend some money to buy me two or three avocados for $4 per avocado just so that I could make guacamole.  I’d maybe get to taste half an avocado once or twice a year.  But now that the prices have come down significantly, I can make guacamole any time and any day of the year.  There’s always an abundance of avocados no matter what grocery store you shop at now.  It’s absolutely wonderful and convenient.

So getting back to my original post, I love my guacamole extra lime-y.  And spicy, and chunky, and cilantro-y.  It’s the only way to eat guacamole.  No garlic, no cumin.  Just love.


Spicy, lime-y, cilantro-y, and chunky guacamole

4 avocados
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, minced or finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
3 limes, juiced
2 jalapenos, minced (remove the seeds and pith if you don’t like it spicy)
1 teaspoon salt

Cut avocados in half, and remove seed. Scoop out avacado from the peel, put in a mixing bowl.

Using a fork or potato masher, mash the avocado, while leaving it chunky. Add the chopped red onion, cilantro, tomato, and salt. Mix together. Next add half of the lime juice, mix well, and adjust to your likings. I like a really lime-y guacamole, so three limes is perfect.

Chili peppers vary individually in their hotness, even with the seeds and pith removed. So, start with a half of one chili pepper and add to the guacamole to your desired degree of hotness.

Enjoy immediately with your favorite tortilla chips. I cut and baked my organic corn tortillas at 400 degrees in a small toaster oven for a few minutes, and they turned out perfectly.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Posole Rojo

I was recently turned to shredded chicken red posole at a Christmas pot-luck while at work.  It was definitely authentic, as it was prepared by one of our coworkers who always brings the most delicious homemade Mexican dishes to our work potlucks.  I loved all the condiments that went along with the already flavorful soup itself.  I just about died and went to foodie bliss when I had my first bite of the posole.  It was the perfect blend of acidity from the limes and spicy from the chiles, plus other complex flavors of the stewed pork, cilantro, and hominy.  I only had one word to describe how it tasted… yum.

I was craving posole after my initial tasting.  In fact, I would go to bed dreaming of his red posole and wake up salivating for it.  So I sought out for the most “authentic” recipe that I could find.  I suppose I could have asked my coworker for the recipe, but some people can be very secretive about family recipes.  I digress.  I perused through a number of posole recipes, and came across one that seemed to be authentic.  We made this a few days before the New Year, and then realized that this is something enjoyed as a New Year’s celebration, which explained why there were only a few cans of hominy left at the grocery store.  This recipe yielded a very flavorful posole, one that we will certainly make again in the near future.  This is a wonderful prescription for a cold, wintery day.

Posole Rojo (from Rick Bayless’ Mexico One Plate At A Time)

3 1/2 pounds pork shanks, cut into 1 1/2-inch thick pieces (ask the butcher to cut this for you)
1 1/2 pounds (2 medium) pork trotters (aka, fresh pig’s feet), cut lengthwise in half (ask the butcher to cut this for you)
1 1/2 pounds bone-in pork shoulder, cut into 3 or 4 large pieces (again, ask the butcher)
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 white onions, finely chopped
8 medium (4 ounces total) dried ancho chiles (or dried New Mexico chiles), stemmed and seeded
Salt
2 cans of white hominy

Toppings

Lime wedges
6 cups thinly sliced cabbage
15 radishes, thinly sliced or diced
Cilantro, chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
2 tablespoons coarsely ground dried hot red chile

Place all the meats in a large pot, cover with 4 quarts of water, add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil.  Skim off the grayish foam that rises during the next few minutes, then add half the chopped onions.  Partially cover the pot and simmer over medium-low heat until all the meat is thoroughly tender, about two hours.  Cool the meat in the broth for the best flavor and texture, then remove it.

Skim the fat from the broth; you’ll have two generous quarts of broth.  Pull the meat from the pork shanks and pull the shoulder meat into large shreds.  Cut the bones and knuckles out of the trotters.  Discard the bones and knuckles, then chop what remains into 1/2 inch pieces.  Add the shredded meat (there will be about 6 cups of meat in all).  Cover and refrigerate if not serving within an hour.

While the meat is cooking, rehydrate the ancho chiles in enough hot water to cover (lay a small plate on top to keep them submerged) for about 20 minutes.  Puree the chiles, liquid and all, in batches if necessary, in a blender or food processor.  Press the chile mixture through a medium-mesh strainer (this removes tough chile skins) directly into the simmering liquid.  Add the pork broth and 1 tablespoon salt, partially cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

Add the meat and the hominy to the simmering posole, and allow to simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  The consistency of the stew/soup should look hearty – full of hominy with bits of meat – but brothy enough to be thought of as a soup or brothy stew.  If necessary, add water.  Taste the posole and season with additional salt if you think it is necessary; since hominy soaks up a surprising amount of salt, you may need as much as another tablespoon.

When you are ready to serve, set out bowls of the condiments for your guests to add to their steaming, fragrant bowlfuls or posole with the lime wedges, sliced cabbage, cilantro, sliced or diced radishes, oregano, and optional ground chile and onions.

Baked Tilapia Fish Tacos

I love a good Baja fried fish taco with cabbage, crema, and a fresh squeeze of lime juice.  I can eat six tacos in one sitting, which may not seem like much to some, but I’m usually pretty full by number three.  Everything just tastes better when you overindulge!  I haven’t had a fried fish taco in a really long time.  Mainly it’s because I am on a weight loss kick and on my way to reaching my goal weight, but also because of wanting to eat more healthy.  So I really try to limit my fried foods intake.  I know, I know.  What kind of foodie am I?!  A healthy one who will indulge in bad foods from time to time :)

I hate to deep fry foods at home.  However, at one point – probably at my most unhealthiest – I entertained the idea of buying an electric Fry Daddy to fry anything and everything.  Luckily, I never purchased the item.  Now the idea of deep frying at home disgusts me.  The smell of deep fried oil lingering in the house for days as it clings on to every surface of the house.  The clean up of splattered oil on the kitchen counters, back splash, and floors.  Reusing the oils to fry a few times later sounds vile.  And finding empty cans or containers to discard the used oils is painful enough.

I’d rather sear, simmer, broil, poach, grill or roast to attain the desired yummy end product.  I’ll pan fry with a little oil from time to time, but I never deep fry foods.  Instead, I’ve gotten very creative at using the oven to “fry” things.  And a fish taco just happens to be one of them!

This recipe embodies all the goodness of a crunchy fish taco minus all the fatty calories!  So for those of you who are calorie conscious, this recipe just might be for you.

4 tilapia or cod fillets sliced into strips
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
Small white corn tortillas
Napa cabbage, shredded
Limes, cut into wedges
Jalapeno-cilantro aioli

Pre-heat oven to 500.  Place cookie sheet in oven to pre-heat as well.

Combine the fish, olive oil and lime juice in a in ziploc bag to marinate for about 10-20 minutes.  This marinade gives it a nice lime-y flavor.

While the fish is marinating, blend together the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper, cayenne and paprika in a shallow dish.

Remove the fish and shake off excess lime juice and then coat with the flour/cornmeal mixture.  Place fish on HOT baking sheet that has been sprayed with PAM or olive oil, and cook for approximately 5 minutes.  Flip the fish on its other side and bake for another 5 minutes.  To note, this method of cooking does not make the fish crunchy as it would if you fried or or pan-fried it.  It just has a small hint of a crunchy texture.

Conversely, if you don’t want to bake the fish, you could also pan fry the fish fillets in a little extra virgin olive oil for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Of course the cooking time also depends on the thickness of your fish fillets.  Remove the fish from the pan and place on a towel-lined plate to absorb the excess grease.

Heat the corn tortillas in a microwave, and assemble!  I usually place two fish fillets onto each tortilla, add some shredded cabbage, a little jalapeno-cilantro aioli, and a squeeze of lime juice.  Of course, you can add what ever you desire onto your fish taco.

This meal really is the easiest prescription for a quickly prepared meal if you are in a hurry, or if you just want something yummy.

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