Mimi Avocado http://mimiavocado.com Sharing stories, recipes and my favorite new discoveries... Fri, 09 Sep 2016 22:56:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 29256921 Book Review: The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection by Robyn Webb http://mimiavocado.com/2016/09/the-perfect-diabetes-comfort-food-collection-by-robyn-webb/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/09/the-perfect-diabetes-comfort-food-collection-by-robyn-webb/#respond Fri, 09 Sep 2016 20:02:44 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=8145 Continue reading ]]> The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection

I’m thrilled to be able to introduce you to a new cookbook that will be coming out this month: The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection by Robyn Webb.   Although it is written to help people with diabetes,  the recipes are appealing for anyone who wants to prepare foods with great flavor,  serve healthy meals, and simplify the process of meal planning.

The concept of the book is brilliant.   Just choose one  of the  nine basic recipes: stir fry, lasagna, meatloaf, burgers, tacos, chicken, soups, main dish salads, and pasta.  Follow the simple instructions to learn each technique. Then try a few of Robyn’s variations on the basic techniques.  In no time you’ll be using each of the basic recipes as a springboard for creative and healthy meals in your own kitchen.   Side dishes are included with each recipe to complete a balanced meal.

Robyn Webb has created a cookbook that offers essential instructions for those nine basic cooking techniques as a starting point, including expert knowledge in nutrition.   The information that is relevant for people with diabetes is also relevant for healthy eating in general.  Robyn offers advice for stocking the pantry so that meal planning and  preparation can  become an exciting creative activity,  not just an exercise in following instructions with the frustrations of missing ingredients. Use this book to set up your pantry, stock your kitchen with Robyn’s recommended basic equipment,  and say hello to an easier life with tasty, healthy meals to please the whole family.

What I love most about this book is the potential for creative cooking! Learn to make a perfect burger, then try out Robyn’s recipe for Juicy Lamb Burgers or Chickpea Patties with Mango Chutney! Love lasagna? Try the No Noodle Cauliflower Lasagna or Lasagna Cupcakes ! How about Corn Tortilla Lasagna? Ever tried Walnut Garlic Sauce on pasta? This book is full of exciting recipes but more than that, it’s full of creative ideas for expanding the repertoire of healthy meals. We all get stuck eating the same dishes in rotation. The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection will open up new horizons for family meals. Instead of feeling trapped by a restrictive diet or lack of ideas, use this book to launch new adventures in eating at home in your very own kitchen!

The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection is available at ShopDiabetes.org, in bookstores nationwide, or by calling 1-800-232-6733.   Buy it on Amazon here. 

A Recipe from the Book and What I Learned

The publisher is allowing me to  share an example from Robyn’s book with you today.  Since receiving an advance copy of  The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection I have already made  Apple Cider Chicken twice!  My family loves it, and no one would ever guess that the recipe was designed for a special diet.  Comfort Food is the perfect title for this book!

Robyn covers three methods of preparing chicken in the book:  searing, poaching, and grilling.  For Apple Cider Chicken I needed to begin with seared chicken. I thought I knew how to sear chicken,  but after reading through the instructions in the book  I realized that I’ve been using a skillet that cannot sear properly.  Nonstick cookware just won’t do the job!   Robyn recommends aluminum or cast iron for searing.   When I switched to cast iron, my chicken browned up nicely and there were plenty of bits in the pan to add flavor to the sauce.

Apple Cider Chicken by Robyn Webb

photos from my experience of making Apple Cider Chicken.

Recipe for Apple Cider Chicken and Sides from The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection

Here is the recipe for  Apple Cider Chicken  from The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection,  printed for you with permission from the publisher.  Included are side dishes to make a complete meal.

APPLE CIDER CHICKEN

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 breast or thigh

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 10–12 minutes + time to prepare Master Chicken Sear

This is a great dish to prepare in the fall and around the holidays. When you tire of turkey, change to this chicken recipe chock full of tart Granny Smith apples. If you can’t find fresh cider, substitute unsweetened, unfiltered apple juice.

Master Chicken Sear (see page 37)

1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced

1/4 cup minced shallots

2 teaspoons fresh minced thyme

1/2 cup apple cider

1/2 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

 

  1. Sear chicken as in Master Recipe (page 37) using chicken breasts or thighs, boneless or bone-in.

 

  1. Add the oil to the pan on medium heat. Add the apples, shallots, and thyme to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Add the apple cider and broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for 3 minutes.

 

  1. Return the chicken and juices to the skillet and reduce to low. Simmer for 4 minutes. Add in the sour cream and parsley and serve.

 

CALORIES 240

CALORIES FROM FAT 110

TOTAL FAT 12.0 g

SATURATED FAT 2.7 g

TRANS FAT 0.0 g

CHOLESTEROL 85 mg

SODIUM 150 mg

POTASSIUM 340 mg

TOTAL CARBOHYDRATE 10g

DIETARY FIBER 1 g

SUGARS 7 g

PROTEIN 22 g

PHOSPHORUS 200 mg

 

EXCHANGES/CHOICES:

1/2 Fruit; 3 Protein, lean; 1 1/2 Fat

 

SIDES

 

GARDEN SALAD WITH BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE

Serves: 8 | Serving size: 1 cup

Prep time: 7 minutes | Cook time: 4 minutes

 

3/4 cup walnuts

2 tablespoons sugar

 

DRESSING

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon coarse Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey or sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

SALAD

5 cups mixed greens

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

2 large carrots, peeled and grated

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

 

  1. In a small sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat, toss the walnuts with the sugar for 3 to 4 minutes or until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Make sure the nuts do not burn. Remove the nuts from the pan and let cool.

 

  1. In a large bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk well.

 

  1. Add the salad ingredients to the dressing and quickly toss together. Serve on individual plates. Top with the nuts.

 

EXCHANGES / CHOICES

1/2 Carbohydrate; 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 2 1/2 Fat

 

Calories 160; Calories from Fat 120; Total Fat 13.0 g; Saturated Fat 1.4 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 105 mg; Potassium 250 mg; Total Carbohydrate 11 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 7 g; Protein 3 g; Phosphorus 65 mg

 

BROCCOLI

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1/2 cup

 

1/2 cup steamed broccoli or broccolini

 

  1. Steam broccoli or broccolini for 4–5 minutes until crisp and tender, and serve alongside Apple Cider Chicken and the salad.

 

EXCHANGES / CHOICES

1 Nonstarchy Vegetable

 

Calories 25; Calories from Fat 5; Total Fat 0.5 g; Saturated Fat 0.1 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol

0 mg; Sodium 30 mg; Potassium 230 mg; Total Carbohydrate 6 g; Dietary Fiber 3 g; Sugars 1 g;

Protein 2 g; Phosphorus 50 mg

Reprinted from The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection by Robyn Webb, MS, published by American Diabetes Association/October 2016

Buy this book: 

The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection is available at ShopDiabetes.org, in bookstores nationwide, or by calling 1-800-232-6733.

Buy it on Amazon here.   

Disclosure:  I was asked to write a review of The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection by Robyn Webb and will be receiving a signed copy of the book.  Robyn is actually a friend who I met when I attended Eat Write Retreat, both in Chicago and in Los Angeles.  

 All opinions are mine.  I wouldn’t recommend a book that I didn’t like!

apple cider chicken

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Roasted Corn Salad http://mimiavocado.com/2016/09/roasted-corn-salad/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/09/roasted-corn-salad/#comments Mon, 05 Sep 2016 23:04:41 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=8138 Continue reading ]]> Roasted Corn Salad

On Labor Day I’m sharing this easy roasted corn salad!  It’s sweet and refreshing with just a little kick!

We celebrated our son’s 30th birthday today with a simple family lunch outside on the patio.  Yesterday I made a big pot of pulled pork,  and this salad was the perfect side dish, along with some fresh local green beans and California cantaloupe.   Use corn tortillas to make pulled pork tacos and add this salad on top like a salsa!

Avocados would be a perfect addition on top of this salad — I have to admit that we had no avocados today!   California avocado season is almost done.  We have picked all of our avocados and are waiting for the new crop of Fuertes and Hass to be ready in December.  We’re irrigating and fertilizing the trees right now to prepare for the bloom in the spring,  and to help the new crop size up.  The hottest California weather is ahead of us — usually September and October are our hottest months.

This year we have had a gorgeous Labor Day weekend with mild temperatures — perfect for our outdoor family celebration.

Happy Labor Day to all of you!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Roasted Corn Salad
 
Author: 
Recipe type: salad
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
This salad is quick and easy to prepare, perfect for a barbecue or a picnic!
Ingredients
  • Dressing:
  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice (I juiced 2 limes)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • Salad:
  • 1 16 oz. bag frozen roasted corn (I used Trader Joe's brand)
  • 2 cans (15 oz) of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (I used Gourmet Garden lightly dried cilantro)
  • chopped avocado (optional)
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
  2. In a salad bowl stir together the corn, pinto beans, bell pepper, green onions, and cilantro.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir together until the salad is coated with dressing.
  4. Add chopped avocado on top. (optional)
  5. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Have you tried my Homemade Carnitas?  Here’s a recipe for melt-in-your mouth pork!  

 

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Downtown Sacramento: Walking Distance Restaurants at IFBC http://mimiavocado.com/2016/08/downtown-sacramento-restaurants/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/08/downtown-sacramento-restaurants/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 23:03:56 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=8107 Continue reading ]]> capital of California

Disclosure:  I attended the International Food Bloggers Conference in downtown Sacramento, CA  in July 2016 at a reduced rate for “citizen bloggers and social media experts” who would write three posts about their experience at the conference.  This is my third post in a series,  which highlights the the eateries I visitied during the weekend, within walking distance of the state capital building and the Hyatt Regency Hotel.  All opinions are mine. 

When I found out that the  2016 International Food Bloggers Conference would be held in Sacramento, CA,  I registered immediately.   Even though I had never spent any time in Sacramento,  I knew that the organizers were planning tours and sessions highlighting California’s agriculture and America’s Farm to Fork Capital.  And best of all, I’d have a chance to see old friends, make new ones, and explore some of the eateries in downtown Sacramento.

landing in Sacramento

I had a wonderful experience and flight with Southwest Airlines, arriving early at San Diego’s Lindberg Field and enjoying a relaxed lunch at Craft Brews on 30th Street near the departure gate.  (I just love how the restaurants and shops at the San Diego airport are locally based.  If you fly in or  out of San Diego often, you can get coupons and special offers for dining here.)

It was a gorgeous clear day, and from my window seat I experienced a tour of the southern coast,  the central valleys,  foothills, and farmlands of California.   The Sacramento airport was easy to navigate, and Super Shuttle whisked me to my hotel after a very short wait for the van to arrive.  The desk clerk at Hyatt Regency let me check in early and gave me a list of restaurants near the hotel.

Sacramento view

view from our room: Cathedral and city

The biggest challenge of the weekend was the heat!  Sacramento can be really hot,  and believe me, it was hot the entire weekend we were there.   We learned that the best time of the day to get out was early in the morning as the temperatures were tolerable throughout the morning.  After noontime it’s best to be indoors,  and don’t expect the evening to cool off much either.  Everyone wore cool, casual clothing for the bus tours on the first days of the conference,  and smart casual outfits for the indoor events and sessions.  I carried a little sweater in my bag for the indoor sessions and events — hotel air conditioning can get chilly.

Mayahuel restaurant

Art, Music, Drinks and Dinner:  Mayahuel

Since I flew in on Wednesday evening, not many people had arrived yet for the conference, but I noticed via Facebook that a fellow food blogger from San Diego was already in the hotel.   I texted her to see if she wanted to join me for dinner,  and we chose a place that was right around the corner from the hotel.  Neither of us wanted to walk very far in that blistering heat!

Mayahuel restaurant Sacramento

We had a wonderful time at Mayahuel,  sipping our watermelon margaritas,  savoring the PIPIAN VERDE CON CHULETA DE PUERCO (“A ‘mole verde’ made from sesame seed served with a juicy cut of pork, cilantro rice”)  and sharing the spectacular IMPOSIBLE (‘Half flan, half chocolate. Translated ‘impossible’, this dessert is flan atop a chocolate cake bottom”).   Honestly, the evening couldn’t have been nicer – from the wonderful company and converation with Ani Arambula of Confessions of a Foodie to the fun interactions with our waiter, Vince.

I enjoyed Mayahuel so much that I went back the next evening with a different group of friends.  This time I ordered the ENSALADA TROPICAL (“Spring lettuce mix, mango, jícama, and pineapple, topped with dry-roasted almonds and a raspberry vinaigrette”) with grilled salmon.  And a watermelon margarita, of course.   I forgot to tell them to omit the chili powder on the rim of the cocktail as I had the evening before,  but I enjoyed their  margarita  with the slightly spicy accented rim just as much.

Ambrosia Cafe in Sacramento

Our Morning Coffee

Downtown Sacramento is home to a number of wonderful coffee houses and fresh bakeries.  One blogger I know  actually planned her coffee shop and craft beer visits throughout the weekend,  graciously sharing her carefully researched findings with those of us who were eager to try the best. To my delight, this blogger happened to be my roommate.

  On my first morning  (before my roommate arrived) I took a walk and used Google Maps to see where the nearby breakfast places were.   Ambrosia Cafe  on a corner of K Street had fresh baked pastries and really good coffee.  I was glad to be there early (7:30 am) because by 8:30 am there was a huge line out the front door!

Lori Rice of Fake Food Free

Lori Rice, photographer and writer

Temple Coffee and Tea

I was thrilled to share the hotel room with a food blogger I met a few years ago during the largest international produce trade show in Anaheim, Ca.   Lori Rice of  Fake Food Free is a connoisseur of quality,  a skilled photographer,  writer and recipe developer,  and a discerning seeker of excellent coffee, great food, and superb craft beers.  I knew that anywhere she chose to go for coffee would be impressive, and Temple Coffee and Tea certainly was impressive.

Temple Coffee Sacramento

After our first visit, I went back the next day just to try a different muffin,  and I discovered the VERY BEST latte I have ever had the privilege to enjoy.   Temple offers classes about coffee,  ships their beans direct, and even shares  free coffee education videos on their website.  Temple Latte

Farm to Fork Dinner

One of the highlights of the International Food Bloggers Conference was our Farm to Fork Dinner.   The evening magically cooled off as we enjoyed a magnificent meal with 350 of our closest friends on the lawn next to the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Farm To Fork Dinner

Mimi Avocado, Nancy Buchanan, Ani Arambula

Farm To Fork Dinner Mimi Avocado and Lori Rice

Lori Rice and Mimi Avocado

Next year’s International Food Blogger’s Conference will be held in Sacramento again!  This time it will be held during Sacramento’s  Farm To Fork Week,  Sept. 29- Oct. 1st.

IFBC 2017

Brunch at Firestone Public House

My last meal in Sacramento was Sunday brunch.   Ani Arambula (Confessions of a Foodie) and I walked just a few blocks to the Firestone Public House,  known for their brunches and happy hours,  with a creative American-inspired menu and over 60 beers on tap.  We both ordered the Firestone Open Face Sandwich:   French toast, Black Forest ham, fried eggs, gruyere cheese, chipotle hollandaise with breakfast potatoes.   Oh my.  You just have to go try it for yourself.

Firestone Public House

I loved my weekend stay at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Sacramento and look forward to trying more of the great eateries in the area during next year’s conference.   If you missed my posts about our tours to California Endive and Stillwater Pears or  our American Lamb Tour,  check them out here:

 How Do You Pronounce “Endive?

growing Belgian Endive

American Lamb Tour — Lamb Sliders with Spinach: Seasoned with Hatch Chiles

cutting up a lamb

 

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How Do You Pronounce “Endive”? http://mimiavocado.com/2016/08/how-do-you-pronounce-endive/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/08/how-do-you-pronounce-endive/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2016 15:58:22 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=8088 Continue reading ]]> endive growing

Belgian Endive (pronounced “Ahn-Deev” is grown inside in complete darkness, unlike endive (pronounced N-Dive) which is grown in a field like lettuce.

You say tomato and I say “to-mah-to”, but both pronunciations of the word mean the same thing, right?  Not so with “endive”!   Whether you say “N-Dive” or “Ahn-Deev” makes a big difference!  Although they are both members of the chickory family,  they are completely different.

Endive and Belgian Endive

Belgian Endive (pronounced Ahn-Deev) on top and Curly Endive (pronounced N-Dive) at the bottom

If you say “N-Dive” you are talking about a curly edged green that is grown outside. It can be called curly endive, and other plants that are related to it are escarole and frisee.   If you say “Ahn -Deev” you are describing Belgian endive, with tightly packed leaves and an elongated shape that is grown indoors in complete darkness.

food bloggers

Food Bloggers touring California Endive Farm (from left) Sara from My Imperfect Kitchen, Mimi Avocado, and Nancy from A Communal Table

During the International Food Bloggers Conference in Sacramento, Ca. I was thrilled to visit California Endive Farms as part of a pre-conference tour.  Our host was Rich Collins, the founder of the only Belgian endive farm in the United States.  He told us about how he happened to get into the business of farming endive (without any background in agriculture) as we rode a bus to the farm in Rio Vista, Ca.   Only a few months earlier he had officially retired from running the business,  but obviously he is still passionate about educating food enthusiasts about Belgian Endive.

Belgian Endive

As you can see, the Begian Endive grows like a bud from one end of a root of the chickory plant. Seeds from specially selected chickory varieties are planted in fields in the late spring,  with foliage growing over 5 months to be knee-high.  In the fall, the foliage is mowed and the roots are harvested from the field with the cut green bud still intact. It is important that the root have this bud, because from this bud the Belgian Endive will grow!

We were invited to step inside a large and very cold building where the chickory roots are kept in an almost-frozen state.  In this dark, cold environment the roots are kept from growing — it’s like winter in there.  There are bins of roots stacked upon each other in the quiet windowless space, frigid and dark.  The chickory roots can be kept in this state indefinitely until the farmer is ready to grow the Belgian endive.

When the farmer is ready to grow Belgian Endive, the roots are taken out of that spaced, and each one  is placed into a tray. The trays are  moved to another dark building that is warmer and quite humid,  and stacked on shelves from floor to ceiling.   Now the roots begin to wake up – for them it’s springtime!   A beautiful Belgian endive grows from the bud of  each root, taking about four weeks until it is ready to harvest.

growing Belgian Endive

Since no sunshine reaches the buds, they grow to be white in color, or a very pale yellowish green.  Red endive also grows in the dark.

Endive Salad

Later in the day we were treated to lunch, including a very tasty Belgian Endive salad!   In Europe the per capita consumption of Belgain Endive is 8 heads per year,  but here in the USA we consume only 4 leaves per person per year!   Our host hopes that those numbers will improve as more people learn about Belgian Endive as a healthful, nutritious vegetable.   Here is nutrition information about Belgian Endive.

Have you ever tried Belgian Endive?  I made this  Endive, Pear, and Gorgonzola Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette  during the holidays (its red and green!) but it is delicious any time of year!

Endive, Pear, and Gorgonzola Salad

We also visited a pear orchard to see pears being harvested,   and to meet the family who owns the orchards and packing operation. We were treated to a wonderful lunch under a sycamore tree that is over 100 years old!

old sycamore tree

See those gorgeous tables?  They were actually built by Rich Collins of the California Endive Farms!  We had  a beautiful lunch including Pear Crumble for dessert!

Pear Crumble

I had never visited a pear orchard before, and it was fun to notice  that they use ladders, picking bags, and plastic fruit bins just like the ones we have on our avocado ranch.   The trees aren’t as tall as avocado trees, so they don’t have to use picking poles — the harvesters can reach the fruit from the ladders.

pear orchard collage

I really enjoyed the tours that were offered before the International Food Bloggers Conference this year.  Next year the conference will once again be held in Sacramento, Ca.  They are talking about offering a tour on the day that the conference closes as well.  There is so much to see in the area around Sacramento – any food blogger that is interested in how food is grown and where it comes from should consider coming!   Sacramento is promoting itself as the “Farm to Fork” capital of the world.  Don’t skip the tours – they were my favorite part!

The conference is held at Hyatt Regency Hotel right across the street from California’s State Capital.  There is lots do downtown, many exciting eateries,  and public transportation is nearby.   This was my first year attending IFBC, and I am looking forward to next year’s conference.

California state capital

Disclosure:   I attended International Food Bloggers Conference at a discounted rate with the understanding that I would write three posts about the conference.  This is the second of those posts. 

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Quick and Easy Lamb Sliders on Foccacia Squares http://mimiavocado.com/2016/08/easy-lamb-foccacia/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/08/easy-lamb-foccacia/#respond Wed, 10 Aug 2016 22:21:27 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=8078 Continue reading ]]> Lamb Sliders    This morning I stopped at Major Market where I bought the ground lamb last week for the Lamb Sliders seasoned with Hatch Chile,  and they had no ground lamb in their meat case.  I rarely do this, but I actually went to the meat cutter and asked for ground lamb!   He told me to wait about 20 mintues, and when I came back there were several packages of ground lamb plus a beautiful lamb sirloin roast!   (Of course I bought that roast too!  Turns out the ground lamb was made from another piece of that same leg of lamb.)

Next I headed over to Trader Joe’s for more of those cute little Mini Hamburger Buns  with the sesame seeds on top.  Alas, they were out of them!  Not to worry,  I glanced at a nearby display and found a large square of Tomato and Olive Foccacia Bread.  In my minds eye I could see that large square cut up into smaller squares, just the right size for Lamb Sliders!

lamb patties

With 1 lb. of ground lamb, I formed five nice sized patties with my hands, and put them into a skillet to brown.  I didn’t mix anything into the meat this time, but seasoned them with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

grilled foccacia squares

I sliced off a piece of the Tomato and Olive Foccacia bread about 4 inches wide, and then cut the piece into squares.   I sliced each piece through the middle to to make a slider bun, and placed the cut side down on a griddle with a little butter for browning.

lamb patty

While the sliders were still juicy but cooked through,  I placed one on the bottom half of a foccacia “bun”, and spread just a little mayonnaise on the top half of the bun.
lamb in foccacia buns

We had some leftover cooked green beans in the fridge so I sprinkled those beans with seasoned rice vinegar for a quick Green Bean Salad.  Fresh ripe Bartlett pears from my IFBC tour to a pear orchard were chilled in the fridge, and topped off a tasty lunch for The Farmer and me!  (Stay tuned — I”ll be telling you about that tour to see pears and endive soon!)

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Lamb Sliders with Spinach: Seasoned with Hatch Chiles http://mimiavocado.com/2016/08/lamb-sliders-hatch-chiles/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/08/lamb-sliders-hatch-chiles/#comments Sat, 06 Aug 2016 16:56:09 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=8043 Continue reading ]]> Lamb Sliders

Tonight The Farmer and I sat out on the porch and enjoyed these juicy and lean Lamb Sliders, seasoned with Hatch Chile salsa and Spinach coated in a Tangerine Hatch Chile dressing.  It was a one of those evenings with a soft cool breeze, and these tasty sliders were the perfect supper for the two of us.

American Lamb Tour

I was inspired by a tour hosted by the American Lamb Board  in conjunction with  the International Food Bloggers Conference in Sacramento, CA. last week.  We drove out to Dixon, Ca. to meet Ryan Mahoney,  a sheep rancher and family man who told us all about how lambs are raised as we drove through acres of agriculture.  We saw sheep and other crops, including olive trees, sunflowers, Sudan grass, and cattle.

California agriculture tour at IFBC

Here I am with my friend Nancy of  A Communal Table. Be sure to check out her blog sometime!

Later in the day we met Don Watson, a lamb producer who sells directly to chefs in the finest restraurants of Napa Valley and northern California.  He demonstrated how to cut up a lamb, and discussed the various cuts and parts of the lamb that can be used in specific recipes.  When I think of lamb,  I usually think of lamb chops or leg of lamb.  I was surprised to learn that some of the nicest cuts of lamb often go into ground lamb because there isn’t a large market for those cuts here in the United States.

cutting up a lamb

Don Watson sells his custom lambs to fine restaurants. A farmer and a culinarian! Looking on is Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes.

As I was shopping for groceries today,  I was more interested than usual in the various cuts of lamb that were available.   They had some beautiful ground lamb patties, so I decided we would have lamb sliders for dinner!  There are lots of lamb patty recipes online, but one that caught my eye wasa an Emeril Lagasse version called Cumin and Chili Lamb Burgers.  Chili?  Great idea!   I have some Hatch Chile products to use!Hatch Chile salsa and powder from Melissa's Produce

Get Ready for Hatch Chiles!

Melissa’s Produce sent me a box of Hatch Chile products to try,  in anticipation of the 2016 Hatch Chile season.  Hatch Chiles are grown in New Mexico, and each year Melissa’s has roasting events at grocery stores across the country.   During the rest of the year, there are dried chiles, powdered dried chiles, bottled Hatch chile salsa,  and a no-added-sugar sauce made with tangerines and Hatch chiles  by my friend Erika — you’ve met her here before – remember her amazing NotKetchup?!

Here is  the Garlic Crusted Scallops with Berry Slaw  – I introduced you to Erika with that recipe!

Tangerine and Hatch Chile Not Ketcup glazed shirmp

You Need NotKetchup In Your Life

Last night I used Erika’s Tangerine and Hatch Chile NotKetchup (made with Melissa’s Hatch chiles) to glaze some shrimp and served them over a Caesar salad.  The sweet/tart flavor of the citrus with the mild chile was perfect on the shrimp -just enough kick!  I love that there is no added sugar in the sauce.  Want some?  Here is the link to order Tangerine Hatch Chile NotKetchup! 

Making the Lamb Sliders

Tonight I added Melissa’s Hatch Chile salsa to the ground lamb and mixed it in,  along with some frozen roasted corn.   When the patties were almost done, I seasoned them with salt and pepper and topped them with just a little grated Mexican cheese.

Lamb Patties with Hatch Chile salsa and cornWhile the lamb was cooking,  I made a dressing with the Tangerine and Hatch Chile Not Ketchup, mayonnaise,   Melissa’s Hatch Chile powder, and lemon juice.  I coated a bowl full of fresh baby spinach leaves with the dressing, and heaped the spinach on top of the lamb patties.  The perfect Friday night supper!Lamb Sliders topped with Spinach

Those lamb patties were juicy, tender, and lean with wonderful flavor punctuated by the Hatch chile.   Crunchy spinach on the sliders was  dressed with a little sweetness and the same little punch from the chile.

 

Hatch Chile Season Begins!

While I was in the store this afternoon I actually found some Melissa’s fresh Hatch Chile’s from New Mexico!  Never heard of Hatch Chiles?  “This chile variety was developed at the New Mexico State University. The name “Hatch Chile” comes from the region where it is grown. Chiles grown outside of the Hatch Valley are known as New Mexico Chiles.” – Melissa’s Produce

Melissa's fresh Hatch chiles

You won’t want to miss your chance to get some fresh roasted Hatch Chiles this season!   The closest locations to our ranch are:

Cardiff Seaside Market
2087 San Elijo Ave.
Cardiff by the Sea CA 92007
760-753-5445
August 14 – 11:00a – 3:00p

Gelson’s Markets – Del Mar
2707 Via De La Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
858-481-9300
September 10 – 11:00am – 3:00pm

Gelson’s Markets – La Costa/Carlsbad
7660 El Camino Real
Carlsbad, CA 92009
760-632-7511
September 10 – 11:00am – 3:00pm

Here is a list of dates and places across the USA where Melissa’s will be roasting!

Check for the one closest to you!

Want the Recipe for the Lamb Sliders?

Until then,  you can still use Melissa’s Hatch Chile salsa and chile powder to make these sliders!  Be sure to order some Tangerine and Hatch Chile Not Ketchup for the spinach dressing too!

Lamb and Spinach Sliders with Hatch Chiles and Corn
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer or Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Juicy and tender Lamb Sliders with just a little kick! Hatch Chile salsa and corn make these extra special, topped with cheese and a citrusy spinach salad.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • ¾ cup Melissa's Hatch Chile salsa
  • ½ cup frozen roasted corn kernals
  • ½ cup grated Mexican cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 6-8 slider buns
  • for the dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 teaspoons Melissa's Hatch chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons Tangerine and Hatch Chile Not Ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Mix the salsa and corn into the ground lamb until well incorporated into the meat.
  2. Form each patty with about ½ cup of the meat mixture.
  3. In a skillet or on the grill, cook the lamb patties one one side until browned.
  4. Turn the patties over and cook to desired doneness.
  5. Season as desired with salt and pepper.
  6. Top with 1 tablespoon of grated cheese.
  7. Toast or grill the slider buns.
  8. For the salad, toss the baby spinach leaves with the dressing.
  9. Place one patty on each bun and top with spinach salad.

Disclosure:   Melissa’s Produce sent me a care package of Hatch Chile products with a request that I post a recipe and announce the schedule for Hatch Chile roastings.  Melissa’s Produce works with many of my blogger friends, and I’m delighted to help them out too!   All opinions are mine.

I attended International Food Bloggers Conference at a discounted rate for bloggers who agree to write three posts about the conference.  This is the first of three posts.  I would have written about the conference anyway.  

Pin this image to your Pinterest Boards for Lamb,  Hatch Chile,  Burgers or Sliders, Appetizers.

Lamb Sliders collage

 

 

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Mill Your Own Flour At Home With Your Mixer http://mimiavocado.com/2016/08/mill-flour-home/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/08/mill-flour-home/#comments Fri, 05 Aug 2016 19:26:14 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=8030 Continue reading ]]> Kitchen Aid flour mill attachment

Who Will Mill The Grain Into Flour?  I Will!

Mill your own flour at home – it is easier than you think!    This handy attachment for a KitchenAid mixer is so fun to use and offers the ability to make fresh flour from grains that aren’t always easy to find.  Fresh-milled flour ensures that all the nutrients will be available and the flavor is at its finest.  And it’s really fun to do!

MockMill

Wolfgang Mock Invented the MockMill

This flour mill attachment is the very first product launched by the Wolfgang Mock, Inc. which is the American subsidiary of the German company that has been building home mills since the 1970’s.  They are rebranding to bring these mills to American cooks who want to have the ability to do “Just-in-Time” milling in their own kitchens.  Mockmills are compatible with a long list of mixers, so they will be removing the title “KitchenAid”  from the name of the product.

“Unlike the metal burr or cement-bonded composite stone attachments, Mockmill has a true ceramic-bonded corundum stone, which produces very fine flour and will not wear down in time.”

ceramic stone

Lots of Fun and I Love This Book!

I have to say that I am really excited to have this attachment for my mixer.  When MockMill offered to send it to me,  I thought, “Well, I’ll try it out, but I doubt this is something I’d really use.”   When it arrived I was so impressed with the quality, the beautiful design, and the ease of use.  MockMill was nice enough to send along a book about the history of milling, the reasons to mill flour at home, all the details of nutrition, different grains, and fascinating facts about flour that I had never thought about.   I’m excited to learn more and try different kinds of grains in my cooking now.

Flour Power

Easier Than I Expected!

When I first unpacked the MockMill,  I was so surprised that it is easy to use!  I expected to spend some time figuring it out,  but it only has a few parts that go together in a very intuitive way.  The instructions recommend that you grind some brown rice in the machine first (to be thrown away) before anything else, just to get any mineral residue off the new grinding stones.   Grinding that rice was really fun!  Just seeing that flour come pouring out of the grinder was thrilling.   I felt like a pioneer!

I couldn’t wait to drive to town to see what whole grains were available at my local health foods store.  I realized later that I could grind dried peas, lentils, or oats already in my own pantry  but it was fun to see what my local store had to offer.  I came home with some red wheat berries and some rye grain.  This morning I found a recipe for chocolate cookies that uses rye flour,  so I ground up my rye grain with the MockMill.  Fun!

Let’s Read “The Little Red Hen!”

You know who is going to love doing this?  Children!  They can pour the grain into the hopper and watch the flour come out into the bowl! (Just make sure that fingers don’t go near the hopper and the grinding stones.)   I can’t wait until my grandson is old enough to hear the story of The Little Red Hen!  “Who will grind the grain?”   “We will!”

The MockMill is adjustable from fine to coarse, and it’s very easy to just turn the rounded end of the attachment to change the coarseness of the flour.

MockMill

So Many Possibilities: Mill Your Own Flour!

 I’m especially excited to have this mill in my kitchen because it has been designed to grind all 7 types of grain (wheat, rye, oats, barley, corn, brown rice, millet and subtypes such as spelt), kamut, quinoa, amaranth, triticale, and dry legumes.  Dry spices can also be milled: pepper, coriander, cardamom, etc.  It’s important to note that nuts, oily seeds such as sesame, poppy seeds, or coffee beans should NOT be ground in the MockMill.

Special Offer Just For You!

MockMill is making a special offer to my readers who wish to purchase a MockMill for their own home.  They are offering some introductory sets, available through August 31, 2016,  including books, grains, and the wonderful MockMill.   There are two package options, and each set is $259,  but YOU can get a discount for $80 off of this price if you use  this discount code during the final payment stage:  mimiavocado

Here is the link to the special offer http://mockmill-summerpromotion.wolfgangmock.com which is being offered only to readers of bloggers who are part of this special promotion.   Don’t forget to use my code “mimiavocado” when you make your payment to get the $80 discount.  These mills will be available in stores, but this price and these packages are being offered NOW just for you.

Rye Grain

I think it’s magical to be able to turn this whole grain into fine flour,  knowing that all the nutrition of the whole grain is right there in the bowl and the flavor couldn’t be any fresher.

rye flour

Rye flour ground with the MockMill and sifted onto a plate

Disclosure:   I was given a MockMill to try in my home with the expectation that I would write a review on my blog and publicize the introductory offer to my readers.  All opinions are my own.  I would not recommend this if I didn’t like it.   If any of my readers buy one of the introductory packages and use the discount code “mimiavocado” to receive an $80 discount from the $259 price,  MockMill will send me $10.  There are contests for the bloggers who sell the most MockMills — and it would be very nice if my readers help me qualify for prizes,  but I’m not trying to do a hard sell here.   Just want you all to know about this great machine and give YOU a chance to get one at a great price. 

 

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Pimento Cheese Sliders and Other Great Ideas http://mimiavocado.com/2016/07/pimento-cheese/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/07/pimento-cheese/#comments Fri, 22 Jul 2016 19:44:32 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=8005 Continue reading ]]> Pimento Cheese Sliders

Much of the nation is suffering with exceptionally hot weather this summer.  No one wants to turn on their oven and it’s hard to want to go outside to use the grill.   Instead of serving big meals,  we’d rather have something cold and tasty ready to eat for snacks.  Pimento Cheese is the perfect summer staple to keep in the fridge!  Never heard of Pimento Cheese?  Your momma didn’t grow up in the South like mine did!

Southern Roots

Every two years our family of  6 would pile into the sedan and drive from Vermont to Mississippi to visit my mother’s family.  While we were in Tupelo, we would be invited to a tea party at “Miss Susie’s House”,  which meant we would be expected to dress up to visit a sweet elderly lady for some real Southern gentility and hospitality.  I have to credit our mother for teaching us to be gracious and to use our manners in a situation that was not typical of  our life in rural Vermont.

  As children,  we knew that customs were a bit different there,  and expectations of proper behavior were explained before each social encounter.  Say “thank you, Ma’am” and be extra well behaved at the table.   We were happy to comply because we knew that there would be pimento cheese sandwiches, served on white bread with the crusts cut off,  along with small tomatoes stuffed with tuna salad.  I’m sure there must have been pound cake or coconut cake on the table as well,  but I honestly don’t remember much besides those tangy-cold-creamy-sweet pimento cheese sandwiches.

Rediscovering Pimento Cheese: On a Biscuit!

Pimento Cheese Biscuit

We sat on a short wall in front of a shop to eat our biscuits. So good!

Last fall I rediscovered my love of Pimento Cheese when I was in Charleston, SC for the Les Dames D’Escoffier conference with Mary Platis of California Greek Girl.   We walked for many blocks to find Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit (and it was hot that day!) but OH how tasty was that flaky buttermilk biscuit filled with   creamy pimento cheese!

Vermont state Capital

I took this photo with my phone from the car as we drove by the state capital. I think it’s the prettiest one in the country!

Down Home Kitchen in Montpelier, Vermont

Imagine my surprise and delight to discover that Pimento Cheese has arrived in Montpelier, Vermont – the  capital of the Green Mountain State!  This is the town where I was born,  where real maple syrup is served with pancakes.  The buildings and streets haven’t changed much since I was a preschooler,  eagerly expecting a lollipop every time we went to the bank.  Right around the corner from that old bank building is a  new eatery  called Down Home Kitchen.

Down Home Kitchen Montpelier, Vermont

“Real Southern Soul Food – Scratch Made with Love”  is the perfect description for Down Home Kitchen.  Meet  Mary Alice Proffitt (coming through the door) who established this charming restaurant  after renovating an building that had housed a bookstore for many years.

Down Home Kitchen renovation

This is our daughter Marianne! Through the window you can see Mary Alice serving some customers outside.

We enjoyed looking through the photo album of the renovation while we were waiting for our food in June,  and Mary Alice plopped herself down on a chair to visit with us for a few minutes.   She explained that she hoped to get a grant to help recover the costs of the renovations.  We had our picture taken together to put into the grant application!    As customers came through the door, it was easy to see that she has established a family-friendly, community-minded treasure in downtown Montpelier where locals and tourists alike  can enjoy homestyle southern  breakfast, lunch, dessert or a beverage and snacks – wholesome food with quality ingredients.   We hope she gets that grant!

Down Home March 2016

photos taken in March 2016 Montpelier, Vermont

We had been to Down Home Kitchen once before,  on a chilly March morning,  when they were very busy serving hearty breakfasts.  We could have ordered pancakes with real maple syrup or an omelet,  but the Blue Plate Specials were calling our names.  Check out their menu here and see if you wouldn’t have a tough time making a choice!

pimento cheese finger sandwich

This pimento cheese has a little dill in it!

Every Fridge Deserves a Bowl of Fresh Pimento Cheese

Did you happen to see the Pimento Cheese finger sandwiches on the menu?   When Mary Alice heard that my mother came from Tupelo, Miss.  and that we grew up eating Pimento Cheese sandwiches in central Vermont,  she had a taster plate sent to our table — and Oh was it good.  Not only is it good in a finger sandwich,  but Mary Alice serves a burger that includes a generous layer of Pimento Cheese as a condiment! Now we’re really talking comfort food!

Are you convinced yet that every refrigerator deserves to have a bowl of fresh Pimento Cheese ready to serve?   How about a grilled Pimento Cheese sandwich!  How about Pimento Cheese with crackers!    Pimento Cheese quesadillas with sliced avocado!  Tiny fresh peppers stuffed with pimento cheese!  Celery sticks stuffed with pimento cheese!

Mimi Avocado’s Recipe for Pimento Cheese

By now I’ll bet you are wondering how to make your own pimento cheese!   There are plenty of recipes online with instructions for using several kinds of cheese,   a dash of Worcestershire sauce,  a little red pepper, sometimes even cream cheese or sour cream, and one even adds pine nuts — and I’m sure those are very good.    The Pimento Cheese we know is the simple kind, so I’m going to share that  recipe  here – there’s no reason not to make some when the ingredients are already in the pantry!   Note:  keep a small jar of red pimentos in your pantry at all times!

Pimento Cheese Sliders and Other Great Ideas
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Dip or Spread
Cuisine: Southern
Make a batch of this tangy pimento cheese and keep in the fridge for sandwiches, snacks, topping a burger, or stuffing into celery, small peppers, or tiny tomatoes.
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. block sharp cheddar cheese
  • ⅔ cup good Mayonnaise
  • ½ jar sliced pimentos, drained
  • dash of lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Grate the cheese yourself. (Packaged cheese won't taste the same.)
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the grated cheese, mayonnaise, pimentos, and lemon juice.
  3. Refrigerate for several hours to let the flavors blend.
  4. Options: use different combinations of cheeses, add your favorite seasonings, herbs, a little dijon mustard, or subsititute sour cream for the mayonnaise. Be creative!

The World Needs More of This

As we were leaving Down Home Kitchen,  we stopped to watch as some children were playing a game of hopscotch on the sidewalk next to the restaurant.   Me:  “Wow!  That’s the biggest hopscotch I have ever seen!”   Child (overflowing with delight and self-satisfaction) “It goes all the way to 86!!”

And look: it’s Mary Alice trying out the hopscotch board!

hopscotch

If you travel to Montpelier,  Vermont I hope you’ll stop in for a meal at Down Home Kitchen and tell Mary Alice that Mimi Avocado says Hi!   Try the old fashioned  homemade banana pudding!

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Make Your Own Maple Ice Cream! (Maple Creemee’s) http://mimiavocado.com/2016/07/make-maple-ice-cream-maple-creemees/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/07/make-maple-ice-cream-maple-creemees/#comments Thu, 14 Jul 2016 01:13:13 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=7969 Continue reading ]]>  

Maple Ice Cream

With only 4 ingredients you can make this wholesome and naturally sweet summertime treat!   All you need is eggs, milk, half-and-half, and maple syrup to make homemade Maple Ice Cream!   Thank you to Davidson’s Safest ChoiceTM Pasteurized Eggs for partnering with me to share a pure maple ice cream recipe to make at home! #SafeEggsIceCream

Vermont’s Favorite Treat

If you have ever traveled to Vermont,  or if you grew up in Vermont like I did,  you will know what I am talking about when I say “Let’s go get a Maple Creemee!”   Entire families have been known to jump in the car on a hot day in summer to stand in line for  soft-serve ice cream cones (called “Creemees” in Vermont). There is nothing more refreshing than a cold creamy ice cream cone flavored with  pure maple syrup,  made  from the sap of the Vermont sugar maple tree.

mpale trees

I think it’s a marvel that Native Americans figured out how to tap the maple trees just as the winter is ending and the warm sunshine causes the sap to run during the day, even while the nights are still very cold.  The sap is clear and watery with just a hint of sweetness, but when it is boiled for the correct amount of time,  it becomes thick,  amber-colored syrup; a natural sweetener with the most heavenly flavor.

Maple Creemee

It is no wonder that Maple Creemee’s are so popular!  During my last trip to Vermont in June I had several Maple Creemee’s in several different towns (all in the name of research)  so I could come back to California and figure out a way to make this special treat for my family, and share it will all of you too!

Recipe for Maple Ice Cream

You can serve maple ice cream while it’s soft and creamy,  or let it firm up like regular ice cream.   You can even add some walnuts or pecans to make every dad’s favorite Maple Nut Ice Cream!                                               CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL RECIPE.

Safe Eggs and maple syrup

I always use Davidson’s Safest ChoiceTM Eggs when making homemade ice cream or anything that requires uncooked or partially cooked eggs.  Since they are pasteurized in the shells (using heat),  the possiblity of  contamination by salmonella bacteria is eliminated.  Click here to learn more about pasteurization.  Have you tried pasteurized eggs?  They are just like any egg you have ever eaten – no change in flavor or consistency – just safe!  ( They have a cute little “p” stamped on each one too.)  I hope you’ll try them!

Here’s a coupon to use for your Davidson’s Safest Choice® Eggs!  Click Here!

reducing maple syrup

Vermonters know that you should use Grade B maple syrup for the most flavor,  but if you have the lighter Grade A syrup, you can boil it in a small saucepan for a few minutes to reduce the liquid and bring out the flavor.  Set aside the syrup until the custard is ready.

separate egg yolks

Separate the yolks to use in the ice cream.   (Use the whites to make a delicious egg-white omelet, or whip up  some meringues.)

heating milk While the milk and half-and-half are heating,  whisk the egg yolks until they are lighter in color.  When the milk/cream is just beginning to simmer, remove from the heat and  pour 3/4 cup of the milk into the eggs, whisking together quickly.  Immediately pour the egg yolk mixture into the remaining  milk in the saucepan,  turn the heat on low,  and stir until the custard thickens.

thickening custard

You need to stir constantly so that the custard will cook evenly.   Don’t ignore this step, because the bottom of the pan will cook quickly and you’ll have lumps in your custard if you don’t keep stirring.   Just relax and slowly stir until the custard thickens.

How will you know that the custard is thick enough?   When it coats the back of the spoon and you can draw a line through the custard on the spoon that doesn’t go away.   See?

line on spoon

Now you can pour the maple syrup into the custard and stir until thoroughly mixed in.

strain the custard

Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer to ensure that the ice cream will be super smooth. (You never know if there might be some tiny little lumps … let’s not take any chances.)

ice bath cooling

Now you can put the bowl into a bigger pot filled halfway with ice and water.  This will cool down the custard quickly so it can go into the refrigerator.   The custard needs to be really cold before you put it into the ice cream freezer machine.  Cover it with plastic wrap and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Meanwhile,  make sure the freezer bowl for your machine is chilling in the freezer too!

That’s it!  Just follow the instructions that came with your ice cream freezer and soon you’ll be enjoying those oh-so-cold-and-refreshing Maple Creemees.

After the machine finishes working, I like to put the freezer bowl into the freezer compartment of the refrigerator to firm up a little bit.  Someday maybe I’ll buy one of those fancy soft-serve ice cream makers so I can make swirly  Maple Creemee cones just like they do in Vermont!

For now,  I’ll just add some toasted pecans or walnuts and serve my homemade Maple Ice Cream in a dish!

maple pecan ice cream

This post is sponsored by Davidson’s Safest ChoiceTM Eggs,  but all opinions are mine.  I love these eggs because there are no worries about Salmonella-related food borne illness.  Raw cookie dough or any food with undercooked eggs (like Eggs Benedict or even the ricotta filling for lasagna) can be served safely when pasteurized eggs are used in the recipe.  Go ahead and lick the spoon! #SafeEggsIceCream

Maple Ice Cream Collage

 

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Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese with Pulled Pork & Avocado http://mimiavocado.com/2016/05/tomato-basil-grilled-cheese-pulled-pork-avocado/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/05/tomato-basil-grilled-cheese-pulled-pork-avocado/#comments Mon, 16 May 2016 18:07:22 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=7948 Continue reading ]]> Elevated grilled cheese sandwich with pulled pork and California avocado with Cabot tomato basil cheddar.Here’s a grilled cheese sandwich full of flavor  for The Farmer’s Monday morning breakfast!   Pulled pork,  Cabot Tomato Basil Cheddar Cheese, and sliced California avocado on grilled sourdough bread.  I’m calling this the Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese with Pulled Pork and Avocado, and it’s a mouthful!

slow cooker pulled pork

Making Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

I put my pork roast into the slow cooker early on Sunday evening so it would be ready on Monday morning. It’s so easy to make a big pot of pulled pork.  Just buy a pork shoulder roast,  brown it in a skillet,  chop up a large onion and put it into the slow cooker.  Add the browned pork roast  with 1- 2 cups of water and let it cook on high until bedtime.   Turn it to low and let it cook all night.   In the morning, use a ladle to get most of the liquid out of the pot before you pull off the fat.

Some pork shoulder roasts come well trimmed,  and when they do there is a little less work.   If they are not trimmed,  I like to make sure that the big piece of fat on one side of the roast is on top.  That was I can remove it before the meat starts to fall apart.   I pull off the fat with tongs, and remove the bones from the roast. They should fall right out of the meat.   Once the fat and bones are discarded, just pull on the meat with tongs or two forks — it will fall apart easily.

  Since it’s breakfast time,  I made the grilled cheese sandwich for The Farmer. It’s hearty and just enough food that he’ll be back in the house at lunch time.  Another day I might cook an egg over easy and serve it on top of the sandwich,  letting the yolk ooze all over that grilled sourdough bread.

Baked Idaho potatoes with all the fixings for Mother's Day

Baked Idaho Potatoes Too!

This year we served Idaho baked potatoes with all the fixings for Mother’s Day.  Butter, sour cream, green onions, chives, bacon bits, ham, salsa, ripe California olives and CALIFORNIA AVOCADOS!  What more could we want!  I love to have baked potatoes left over so I can cut them up and brown them in butter for breakfast!

Pulled pork served over country fried Idaho potatoes and topped with Cabot Tomato Basil Cheddar, avocado on the side.

That’s what I did for my own breakfast today!  On top of that country-fried potato I added a pile of  the pulled pork,  melted some creamy Cabot Tomato Basil Cheddar cheese on top, and sliced up the other half of avocado on the side.  Brunch for The Farmer’s Wife!

Fried Egg Flower and Butterfly Bush are blooming in May here at the ranch

Matajilla Poppies

It’s the middle of May here at the ranch, and the Matajilla poppies are blooming!  Spectacular native plants that are nicknamed “Fried Egg Flowers”,   these huge blossoms are so cheerful on a typical gray May day here in Southern California.  The colors look so pretty with the reddish purple Buddleia,  also called “Butterfly Bush”.  What’s blooming in your garden this month?

Graduating from CSULB

Music To Our Ears

This week our youngest daughter is graduating from college with a Bachelor of Music in flute performance!   Do we have any  music lovers here?   Enjoy  Rachel’s senior flute recital — we are proud parents indeed!

Disclosure:   Cabot Creamery Cooperative sent me a gift box of their World’s Greatest Cheddar cheeses because I’m a  member of their Cabot Blogger Cheese Board.  I grew up near Cabot, Vermont — have you seen my post on the Cabot Cheese tour?  If you’re ever in Vermont, this a place to visit!

My friends at Idaho Potato Commission sent me a beautiful box of Idaho Russet Burbank potatoes.  I love them so.  I’ll never forget my visit to Idaho for the Idaho Potato Harvest.  Read about it HERE.    Do you know that they have a recipe photo contest?  Just make the recipe from their site and snap some photos.  You might win $500 and have your photo placed on their site.  Give it a try!

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Homemade Carnitas Tacos with Avocado for Cinco de Mayo http://mimiavocado.com/2016/05/homemade-carnitas-tacos-avocado-cinco-de-mayo/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/05/homemade-carnitas-tacos-avocado-cinco-de-mayo/#comments Wed, 04 May 2016 19:04:49 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=7931 Continue reading ]]> Carnitas Tacos with Avocado from MimiAvocado.com

When I think of comfort foods,  I remember coming home from school activities to a house filled with the delicious aroma of roasting pork.  As soon as the weather turned cool,  we could look forward to roast pork with apple sauce.  In those days,  roast pork meant a nice tenderloin roasted in the oven.  Now that I live in California,  I’ve learned to make a different kind of roast pork for tacos or burritos called Carnitas.

Carnitas means “little meats” and usually refers to braised pork that melts in your mouth.   Traditional Carnitas is a Mexican dish that originated in the state of Michoacan, where the pork is simmered in lard with salt, chili, cumin, oregano or Mexican oregano, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, and crushed garlic cloves.

I’m going to share how I make Carnitas for these tacos,  seasoned  with a homemade tomatillo sauce.  You won’t believe how easy it is to do, and how tasty it turns out!  Just in time for Cinco de Mayo too!  Start with a pork shoulder roast that will fit into your slow cooker or heavy covered pot.   Brown some onions, add some garlic,  then add the roast to the pot or to the slow cooker.  Add 2 cups of water,  cover, and let it cook slowly for 3-6 hours.   You’ll know it’s done when the bone can be removed easily and the meat just falls apart.  If there is still a lot of liquid in the pot, pour off all but about 1/2 cup.

tomatillos and pepper

At this point you have options.  You can pull apart the meat and add a big can of green enchilada sauce that you buy at the grocery store.  It will be very tasty, but you’ll have to accept that some of the ingredients are preservatives and there might even be sugar in the sauce.  Your other option is to make homemade tomatillo sauce, and be sure that everything in that sauces is exactly how you want it to be.

Use 8-10 tomatillos,  remove the thin dry outside skin, wash and place into a sauce pan with one jalapeño pepper.  Boil them together for 5-7 minutes until they have changed from bright green to a yellowish green. (Don’t let them pop and drain their juices into the water.)   Drain.   Cut about 1 inch of the jalapeño pepper off the end opposite the stem and remove any seeds that might be in that piece.  Place the tomatillos and that piece of pepper into your blender,  adding several cloves of chopped garlic,  and one tsp. salt.  Blend until pureed.  That’s it!  You have your homemade sauce. If you want more heat, add more jalapeño.

Pour the sauce over the pork, and gently mix it in.  Now you have a huge pot of seasoned carnitas to use anyway you wish!  For tacos, heat small corn tortillas and melt some grated Mexican cheese on top.  Spoon a little of the pork on top, add sliced avocado, fresh cilantro if you like,  and pass the salsa!  Or just eat the luscious meat right out of the bowl with some beans, rice, and a salad.  Put the meat and beans under the salad and call it a Carnitas Bowl!

Homemade Carnitas with Tomatillo Sauce from MimiAvocado.com

Additional tips:

You can use different sauces to season the pork, depending on what you like.  Barbecue sauce will give you traditional barbecued pulled pork.  Or try my friend Erika’s Tangerine Hatch Chile Not Ketchup — the citrus flavor is outstanding and the hatch chiles give it a nice kick with no added sugar.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Carnitas
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Tacos
Cuisine: Mexican American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Homemade carnitas that melts in your mouth is easy to make in a slow cooker or on top of the stove, and fills your kitchen with a wonderful aroma! Make tacos, burritos, or just eat it right out of the pot!
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 - 5 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 pork shoulder roast 6-10 lbs.
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth
  • 8-10 tomatillos, with skins removed
  • 1 medium sized jalapeño pepper
  • 2 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Brown the chopped onion and garlic in a heavy pot in the oil.
  2. Add the roast and brown on all sides.
  3. Add the water or broth and cover the pot.
  4. Simmer on medium low for 3 to 6 hours, making sure that the liquid doesn't evaporate, until the bone can be removed easily and the meat falls apart.
  5. Pour off the cooking liquid, leaving about ½ cup.
  6. With 2 forks, shred the meat until it is no longer chunky.
  7. Sauce:
  8. Remove the outer skins from the tomatillos.
  9. In a sauce pan of boiling water, cook the tomatillos and jalapeño pepper for 5-7 minutes, until they change from bright green to yellowish green.
  10. Cut 1 inch from the bottom of the pepper and remove any seeds that might be inside.
  11. Place the cooked tomatillos and the piece of pepper into the blender with crushed garlic and salt.
  12. Puree until smooth.
  13. Pour the sauce over the shredded pork and gently mix until evenly distributed.
  14. Serve with fresh salsa and/or fresh cilantro.

Carnitas Tacos for pinterest

 

 

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Tangerine Blondies with Chocolate and Pecans http://mimiavocado.com/2016/04/tangerine-blondies-chocolate-pecans/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/04/tangerine-blondies-chocolate-pecans/#comments Tue, 26 Apr 2016 00:17:49 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=7905 Continue reading ]]> Tangerine Blondies with Chocolate and Pecans

Today I’m excited to share these Tangerine Blondies with you,  and the story about how they happened in my kitchen.  I don’t usually bake with citrus fruits, but after this latest discovery I’ll be doing more of it!

Are you a tangerine lover?  It’s so hard to wait until those gorgeous little oranges are perfectly sweet and ready to eat!  The Tango mandarin oranges that we grow here on the ranch are in season, so I have been looking for ways to use those sweet, seedless beauties in recipes.  It’s so easy to eat a bag full without even realizing it!  The peel zips off and those juicy little sections seem to want to jump right into my mouth.    They’re perfect for fruit salads, marinades, and the zest adds great flavor to breads, cookies, and muffins.

Easy Peel, Sweet, Seedless Tango Mandarin Oranges

Last week I was looking for a way to include zesty flavor of our juicy tangerines in a brownie or bar cookie. I needed to package and share the cookies for a Food Swap that would be held  at the Eat Write Retreat conference for food bloggers.   Each participant would be bringing something they grew or made themselves to swap for products that other bloggers had made. I knew I would be  sharing our  fresh tangerines,  but I wanted to make a tasty dessert to highlight the citrus flavor which  also included eggs,  since a contest was being sponsored by Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs.

Davidson's Safest Choice Eggs and our Tango mandarin oranges

I tried making  pound cake with tangerine zest and vanilla extract in them, and I thought about adding tangerine zest to chocolate brownies.   Then I came up with the idea of making Tangerine Blondies so that the tangerine flavor and the pretty orange zest would be center stage,  supported by semi-sweet chocolate chips and chopped pecans.

tangerine glaze for the Blondies with chocolate and pecans

After the blondies were baked,  I made a glaze with tangerine juice, tangerine zest, and confectioners sugar to spread on top.   I cut the blondies into generous size squares and put two of them into each cellophane package.  We were given cute Food Swap Stickers to label our products,  and a Food Swap card so that people who were interested in swapping could indicate their interest and list what they were willing to swap for each item.

Tangerine Blondies with Chocolate and Pecans for Food Swap at Eat Write Retreat 2016

Each of us had a table to display our wares.  I offered fresh Tango mandarin oranges, fresh Hass avocados,  Tangerine Pound Cake and the Tangerine Blondies with Chocolate and Pecans.  While I was visiting other tables to see what I would like to take home,  other bloggers came to my table and signed up to swap for my items.  When everyone had finished the process of signing up for swaps,  we traded our items.   I brought  home maple marshmallows,  cinnamon cashews, matcha donuts, veggie broth, Mexican chocolate, homemade Meyer lemon curd, dried Kiwi berries,  juices, and chocolate cherry quick bread.  Lots of fun and all those treats to enjoy!

Food Swap event at Eat Write Retreat 2016

I was surprised and thrilled when my Tangerine Blondies with Chocolate and Pecans won the 1st prize in the contest!   These are now “award-winning” Tangerine Blondies!   Want the recipe?  I thought you might!

Tangerine Blondies with Chocolate and Pecans
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Tangerine zest and glaze give these Blondies a citrusy zing, complemented by semi-sweet chocolate and pecans.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 4 eggs ( I used Davidson's Safest Choice pasteurized Eggs)
  • 3 tablespoons grated tangerine zest
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • Glaze:
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tangerine juice
  • 2 teaspoons tangerine zest
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray a 13x9x2 inch oblong pan with non-stick spray (or grease with butter/shortening) and set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar.
  4. Add the eggs and tangerine zest, beating until well blended.
  5. In a small bowl, stir the flour, baking soda and salt until well mixed.
  6. Gradually add the flour and salt mixture, beating after each addition.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and use the toothpick to make holes in the top of the blondies about 1 inch apart
  10. Prepare the Glaze by stirring the confectioners sugar, zest, and juice together until smooth.
  11. Pour the glaze over the warm pan of blondies and let cool before cutting into squares.
  12. Refrigerate to keep these fresh for several days.

Travel Tip:

We had a great time at Eat Write Retreat 2016,  learning from experts and sharing ideas and inspiration with each other.   We stayed at the Beverly Garland Hotel in North Hollywood, Ca.,  a very comfortable small resort-like hotel that felt immediately like home!   In fact, the decor matched the Tango Mandarin oranges that I brought with me perfectly!

Tango mandarin oranges on the bed at Beverly Garland Hotel in N. Hollywood, CA

We enjoyed the restaurant at the hotel,  the relaxing atmosphere,  the 60’s and 70’s feel of the decor. Near Universal Studios (with free shuttles to the attraction), we were surprised to learn that we were within walking distance of the house that was used on The Brady Bunch television series.   Of course  we had to take a group selfie in front of that house while humming the theme of that show we all watched while we were growing up!

The Brady Bunch House

 Want to try  Tango Mandarin oranges?

If you live in San Diego county,  look for them at Major Market in Escondido.    We also ship gift boxes of these sweet juicy treats through California Avocados Direct.com. 

Tango Mandarin Oranges (tangerines) from our family farm

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Chipotle Cheddar, Avocado, and Onion Patty Melt http://mimiavocado.com/2016/02/chipotle-cheddar-avocado-and-onion-patty-melt/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/02/chipotle-cheddar-avocado-and-onion-patty-melt/#comments Fri, 19 Feb 2016 03:59:51 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=7877 Continue reading ]]> cheddar, avocado, and onion patty melt I was thinking about our dating days this week, after our 35th Valentine’s Day together.   We used to go out to Bob’s Big Boy when we were dating, and one of our favorite meals was the Patty Melt.  The nice thing about a patty melt is the lack of the big bun,  so a little extra cheese is easily justifiable.

How to Make a Chipotle, Avocado, and Onion Patty Melt

burgers

Start with good beef,  lean but not the very leanest.  This is ground round, with 15% fat.  Nice and flavorful when there’s a little fat!  I shaped the patties to fit perfectly on a piece of sourdough toast.  Season with salt and pepper.

cheddar and avocado

While the burgers are cooking,  cut some good cheddar cheese and perfectly ripe avocado.  Tonight I used Cabot Chipotle Cheddar to add a little kick!  Those slices are just the right size for my custom-shaped patties.

sourdough toast

Lightly toast the sourdough bread slices.  Sourdough can get dry and crumbly if you toast it until it is crispy, so take it out of the toaster before it’s too brown.

Fuerte avoado and sourdough toastThese slices came from a huge Fuerte avocado,  perfectly ready to eat,  and easy to peel.  Never scoop a Fuerte avocado!   When the avocado is ready, cut it into quarters and pull the skin off of the flesh.  Then cut into perfect slices.   The avocado has lots of creamy flavor,  so mayonnaise isn’t needed.  I love the idea of using avocado instead of other condiments.

spinach and avocado toast

Now stack some fresh greens on top of that luscious  avocado.  Spinach leaves look so pretty!

carmelized onions

Did I forget to mention the caramelized onions?    Slice a yellow onion (or you can use a sweet onion)  and sauté slowly in butter or olive oil.  Stir those onion slices and be very patient as they gradually become more pliable and turn a gorgeous golden brown.

onions and burgers

Stack those golden onions on top of the burgers.  Then put a generous slice of cheese on top of each one.  Turn down the heat and cover the pan,  waiting for the cheese to melt and ooze all over those yummy onions.

chipotle avocado patty melt

There you have it.  Tonight’s  perfect supper.  Add some mustard, ketchup, or mayonnaise if you must – I’m happy to enjoy mine just like this!   Eat it with a fork and knife, tasting those caramelized onions next to the spinach and avocado.  Then try a taste of the beef and cheese.  Then mix and match those flavors.  Small bites….no rushing.

Spring Has Arrived at the Ranch

spring flowers

February is one of my favorite months, when the spring flowers begin to bloom and the Fuerte avocados are in season.  Have you found Fuerte avocados in your farmers’ markets?  The season is almost over now.  We still have some here on the ranch, even after all those heavy winds that came with the rains a few weeks ago.  The only good thing about Fuerte season ending?   Hass season begins!    We’ll start harvesting those yummy Hass  very soon!

Our Super Weekend!

wedding

This year we spent Super Bowl weekend at a really SUPER event:  our niece’s wedding in Minnesota!  It was so much fun to spend time with family, enjoying the cold and the snow for a few days.  When we returned to San Diego it was time for Valentine’s Day!

Be My Valentine
Valentine Avocado Toast

 

Here is my 2016 Valentine Avocado Toast!   Peel half of an avocado and carefully remove the seed,  and then slice through the entire half.  Use your heart cookie cutter to expand the hold left by the seed.  With the remaining piece of avocado (the one that was next to the skin),  cut a heart.   Mash the leftover pieces and spread on sourdough toast.  Position the large slice on top of the mashed avocado. Sprinkle Cabot Powdered Cheddar Shake into the heart-shaped cut-out,  and onto the plate. Place the avocado heart on top of the cheese.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

wild flowers

The rains that came in January helped the wild flowers to start blooming!  I bought wild flower seeds at Lowe’s and tossed them on the edges of the grove near the house last year.  This last week we have had sunshine and temperatures in the 80’s so the flowers have been blooming.   Here’s hoping for more rain!

Chipotle Cheddar Avocado Patty Melt

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Avocado Sunshine on Toast: Winter Fun http://mimiavocado.com/2016/01/avocado-sunshine-fun/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/01/avocado-sunshine-fun/#comments Sun, 24 Jan 2016 11:54:17 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=7846 Continue reading ]]> avocado toast

We were thrilled to get 3 inches of rain earlier this month,  and equally thrilled to be able to  take a week off from irrigating the avocado groves to do some local touring with friends who were visiting us from Vermont.   Today I’m sharing some of our Fuerte avocado deliciousness and some fun places to visit when you’re in the San Diego area.

As much as we love our winter rains,  it’s great to have some sunshine on our toast for breakfast!  With Fuerte avocado season in full swing, we’ve been enjoying creamy avocado slices every morning with our  eggs and on toast.  Fuerte avocados are known for their characteristic full nutty flavor.  Come to think of it,  I think they are my all time favorites!

Fuerte avocados

How to Enjoy Fuerte Avocados on Toast

It’s important to remember not to wait until the Fuerte avocado gets too soft. It should just barely ‘give’ when gently pressed in the palm of your hand.  Cut the avocado all the way around,  twist to separate the halves, and gently pull the peel away from the fruit.   Then slice or use a larger piece to make cut-outs with small cookie cutters.  Mash up any left-over pieces and spread on toast.

sliced Fuerte avocados

Fresh sliced Fuertes on sour dough toast with some seasoning sprinkled on top is a fine breakfast!

Valentine avocado cut-out

Or cut out a soft green heart to put on top of those sliced avocados!

avocado heart on mashed avo

Mash the left-over pieces of avocado and add a heart on top with some salt and pepper for your Valentine!

high surf San Diego

Fun Day Trips Around San Diego

After those heavy rains here in San Diego,  we had some beautiful high surf at the beaches!   We visited Sunset Cliffs and Juan Cabrillo National Park to watch the waves with our friends Leslie and Leo who were visiting from Vermont.  We had been looking forward to their return ever since they visited for the first time two years ago.   This time we had a whole week of activities planned!

Myrtle Creek Nursery

Since Leslie is a master gardener,  we visited Myrtle Creek  Botanical Gardens and Nursery  in Fallbrook, the Avocado Capital of the World, where the Inland Empire Food Bloggers had such a great time last spring.

Jake's Del Mar lunch

While our husbands stayed on the ranch to talk about farming,  Leslie and I drove over to Del Mar for lunch at one of my favorite places,  Jake’s Del Mar.   Their  winter signature cocktail is a Persimmon Rye- Car,  a variation on the Sidecar, with Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Cointreau, fresh persimmon puree and fresh lemon.   Perfect for a chilly winter day at the beach,  sip this tasty toddy and you’ll warm right up!  Then cool off again with their famous Mud Pie with macadamia nut ice cream for dessert!

avocado and smoked salmon

We enjoyed our Fuerte avocados in the evening as appetizers paired with Ducktrap smoked salmon and crackers!  This is the best smoked salmon any of us have ever eaten, and I must say a big THANK YOU to our cousins from Memphis for sending us such a lovely gift!

San Clemente to Lake Elsinore

Another day trip included breakfast on the San Clemente Pier at  The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar , and plenty of time to watch the surf from the pier.

We drove by Mission San Juan Capistrano,  followed by a gorgeous drive east through the hills on the Ortega Highway to Lake Elsinore.  We still had time for some wine tasting in Temecula at Ponte Winery where we tasted 6 wines and  discovered their amazing Port.   We drove back toward home on the De Portola Wine Trail, stopping at Cougar Vineyard and Winery where there is live music on Sunday afternoons, a wonderful deli, and a new barrel room with huge projection TV — a great place to watch a football game!

avocado and fig spread on toast

There is “no place like home”,  especially when we can make special memories with friends from Vermont!  They’re back in the cold country now, looking forward to skiing in the beautiful Vermont snow.  We’ll be here enjoying our avocados on toast — with a little white fig spread and bacon — and looking forward to more rain!

Fuerte season will be over soon, and we’ll have to wait another whole year to enjoy this flavorful California avocado variety. Have you ever eaten Fuerte avocados?  People who know Fuerte avocados usually have stories to tell about a special tree in their grandmother’s back yard,  or family memories of recipes they enjoyed with these original California avocados.   If you’d like to try some,  California Avocados Direct will ship a box to you or as a gift anywhere in the USA.

Avocado Toast Valentine

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Chocolate Pecan Cake: Queen of Hearts http://mimiavocado.com/2016/01/chocolate-pecan-cake-queen-hearts/ http://mimiavocado.com/2016/01/chocolate-pecan-cake-queen-hearts/#respond Sat, 23 Jan 2016 21:47:57 +0000 http://mimiavocado.com/?p=7843 Continue reading ]]>  

Chocolate Pecan Cake

With Valentine’s Day coming up,  it’s time to follow through on my promise to share the recipe for this scrumptious chocolate pecan cake.  I found the recipe that inspired this cake in Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart, a 2013 James Beard award-winner.   Last October I met both authors at the LDEI Conference in Charleston, SC.  and have been enjoying their book ever since.

The truly exciting part about this cake is the shape.  I love that the hearts come together to form a star in the middle!   The name of this pan is Queen of Hearts,  made by Wilton.  Just as a favor to help you find it, the  link to purchase this pan is right here:  http://www.wilton.com/dimensions-queen-of-hearts-pan/2105-5001.html#q=Queen+of+Hearts&start=6.  (You can also find it on Amazon.)

First I sprayed the pan with non-stick baking spray that includes flour in the spray.  Instead of mixing the pecans into the batter of the cake,  I placed the chopped pecans in the bottom of the pan, carefully filling each of the heart-shaped indentations.  Then I gently poured the cake batter on top of the pecans.  The nuts baked into the cake and produced those gorgeous nutty hearts!

This cake includes melted chocolate chips,  so the flavor will depend on the quality of the chocolate chips that you choose.  I used semi-sweet chips, but you could melt 12 ounces of any of the good chocolate that you might have left over from the holidays.

Queen of Hearts Chocolate Pecan Cake
 
Author: 
Recipe type: cake
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Use good quality chocolate to make this luscious chocolate pound cake. I recommend the Wilton Queen of Hearts cake pan for a stunning presentation.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Spray a bundt cake pan with baking spray that includes flour, or butter and flower the cake pan.
  3. Place the chopped pecans in the bottom of the bundt pan.
  4. Place the softened butter into a large mixing bowl and beat on low speed with electric or stand mixer until soft. Increase the speed and whisk until the butter is fluffy.
  5. Melt the chocolate chips and let them cool to room temperature.
  6. Add the sugar ¼ cup at a time, whisking with the mixer until each addition is whipped into the butter.
  7. Add the eggs one at a time, beating each for 1 minute after adding to the butter and sugar.
  8. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt into a small bowl.
  9. Add ⅓ of the flour mixture and ½ cup of milk and mix on medium speed. Repeat with ⅓ flour mixture and ½ cup sugar. Then add the remaining flour and mix.
  10. Stir in the melted chocolate and the vanilla extract.
  11. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt cake pan until ⅔ full. Any leftover batter can be baked in a loaf pan that has been buttered and floured.
  12. Bake at 325 degrees for 60-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  13. (A loaf pan will bake in about 30-45 minutes)
  14. Cool the cakes in the pan for 15 minutes, then carefully loosen the cake by running a knife around the inside edge of the cake pan.
  15. Turn the cake upside down to remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.
  16. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, or homemade chocolate sauce.

 

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