The Only Guacamole Recipe You Need

The Only Guacamole Recipe You Need

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I have a giant love affair with avocados so it’s only natural that I have an easy, go-to recipe for guacamole. Having lived in Arizona and Southern California for 20 years, I’ve had my fair share of really great guacamole, and it’s surprisingly so simple to make if you have fresh ingredients.

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Guacamole Secret

The secret to great guacamole is in the avocados and it all starts at your grocery store. There are lots of theories about how to pick out a great avocado but it depends on when you are going to use them. Need them for dinner tonight? Pick one that is dark and consistently soft all around. Avoid avocados that have large spots of softness. Have time to let them ripen? Then get avocados that are greener and firm without any noticeable bruising. If your avocados start to ripen faster than you can use them, store them in the refrigerator. It slows down the ripening process and they last a little longer. Those suckers can be expensive, you don’t want to waste any of your investment.

easyguacamole_wholeavocados

When a recipe calls for avocado’s, I always get at least two more than I really need.  As careful as I am when choosing my avocado’s, sometimes you just get a few duds.

Guac Mash

Everyone has an opinion on whether they like a chucky guacamole or a more pureed kind. I prefer mine somewhere in the middle. It achieve this magical consistency, I dice up the avocado using this tool then I use a potato masher to partially break it up.

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Storing Guacamole

Avocado will turn brown if it’s left out in the air for too long. It doesn’t affect the taste but let’s face it, no one wants to dig into a bowl of brown guac. There are two ways that I store it to make sure that it’s nice and green when it’s time to dig in. First is simple, get some cling wrap and cut a piece larger than the top of your bowl. Starting in the middle, place it on the top of the guacamole and cover to the edges. Make sure that there are no air pockets and that the cling wrap covers every bit to the edges. The second way is also simple but a little strange. Put a layer of water on the top of your guacamole. It also acts as a barrier to the oxygenation but since avocados are oily, it doesn’t affect the taste.

easyguacamole_storage

Guacamole is so versatile. You can keep it as is in the recipe or add in some red onion or hot pepper of your choice. I developed this recipe while I was breastfeeding Big Nugget so I omitted the onion and just never put it back in. It’s a great condiment or appetizer for a party, potluck or simple BBQ.

I may or may not have eaten just chips and guacamole for lunch the day I photographed this…

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These are my absolute favorite chips….trust me, you’ll want that many.

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The only homemade guacamole recipe that you will need. Simple, easy, versatile and kid friendly. This authentic Mexican recipe makes a great dip, appetizer, condiment or side dish for any dinner, potluck or party. Perfect for Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July or summer BBQ. Easy storing instructions and tips on how to shop for avocados. #recipe #guacamole #entertaining #avocado #appetizer

Guacamole

Course Appetizer, condiment, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 3 Large Avocados
  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp cilantro finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp red onion finely diced, optional
  • 1 pepper (jalapeno or serrano) finely diced, optional
  • pinch ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Peal and dice avocados combine with cilantro, minced garlic, juice of one lime and salt. If using, add onion and pepper.

  2. Using a potato masher, smush avocado mixed to desired consistency. 

  3. Mix in tomatoes and adjust salt, lime and pepper to taste. Store with a layer of cling wrap or water on top. Serve with your favorite chips or veggies. 

Pistachio Delight an Easy No-Bake Dessert

Pistachio Delight an Easy No-Bake Dessert

Pistachio Delight dessert was a childhood favorite in our house and it’s the one dessert that my friends will request that I bring to parties.

It’s a pistachio dessert with a Ritz cracker crust. It’s so simple, no-bake and so very good. I still get texts from old friends asking me for my mom’s recipe. Just like my chili and chicken soup, this dessert is super nostalgic for me, it’s a great treat to bring for an Easter or Mother’s Day brunch, a festive St. Patty’s Day dinner or just a summer BBQ.

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pistachio delight dessert mid

Pistachio Delight fun

This dessert is really easy to put together but does take some planning. You need to give the ice cream a little time to partially thaw. The pudding mixture should set for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, and the Cool Whip needs time to defrost for the topping.

Since we don’t have air conditioning in our house, I’m always appreciative of no-bake desserts during the hot months – which for us lately has been almost all year round. This dessert is something that both of the kids can help with, Little Nugget loves to smash the Ritz crackers and Big Nugget can whisk the green pudding together.

The (not so) secret ingredient to this dessert is the partially melted vanilla ice cream. I usually buy the rectangular quarts of ice cream so it’s easier to split it in half.

If you don’t have ice cream, you can leave it out and just use the full amount of milk needed and make sure you keep it refrigerated overnight though to get it nice and firm.

Pistachio Delight Dessert Pan

Nut Free Option

My nieces are allergic to nuts so we just swap out the pistachio pudding for a nut-free flavor (vanilla or strawberry are favorites) and it’s just as good. There is no reason you have to sacrifice flavor just because of a food allergy.

Pistachio Delight Dessert Pinterest

Pistachio Delight

No bake pistachio dessert.

Course Dessert

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1.5 sleeve Ritz crackers, smashed into crumbs
  • 2 packages pistachio pudding
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1 container Cool Whip

Instructions

  1. Line a 9x13 pan with Ritz crumbs and drizzle with melted butter. Make sure all the crumbs are coated and press down into the bottom of the pan to make your crust.

  2. Whisk milk and pudding until just set and then fold in softened ice cream. Spread evenly over the top of the cracker crumbs - careful not to lift the crumbs into the pudding mixture. 

  3. Cover pan with cling wrap and let set in the fridge for 4 hours (or overnight). Top with Cool Whip and serve immediately or refrigerate. 

Cheesy Stuffed Meatloaf

Cheesy Stuffed Meatloaf

Cheesy stuffed meatloaf is one of my family’s favorite dinners. Growing up, our comfort foods where soup and chili but meatloaf was always a good comforting meal. I know I’ve stumbled on something good when even my Mom calls me to make sure she’s making my recipe right.

Cheesy Stuffed Meatloaf pan

I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to meatloaf and I usually serve it with mashed potatoes. Since I’m trying to watch my carb intake, I’ve made this with mashed cauliflower and it’s just as good. Seriously, you wouldn’t even know it’s not mashed potatoes. Or, if there are any leftovers, I just go for a super low carb snack and have a slice (or two) on it’s own.

Cheesy Stuffed Meatloaf Plated

This is one of those recipes that I’ve been making for so long that I honestly have no idea how I found it or where it came from. I’ve been making this for well over ten years. I’ve never ever had a problem making it, it always turns out great. Except for when I made it for the specific purpose of posting it here. I bought some generic cheap wax paper and it literally melted into the turkey meat and I had to scrap it and improvise dinner that night. This time around, I made sure I had some good wax paper and it turned out perfect. Lesson learned, don’t skimp on the wax paper.

Cheesy Stuffed Meatloaf cuttingCheesy Stuffed Meatloaf swirl

Not a mushroom fan? It’s perfectly good without. You can play around with what you stuff into it also. I’m made a pizza version, a spinach version, the options are endless but since Big Nugget recently declared that she loves mushrooms (but only when they are cooked and NOT on pizza) I keep going back to this old standby.

Cheesy Stuffed Meatloaf beforeCheesy Stuffed Meatloaf whole above

Cheesy Stuffed Meatloaf

Melty mozzerella and mushrooms make this a meatloaf that the whole family will enjoy. Best with turkey or ground beef and pairs perfectly with mashed potatoes or cauliflower for the ultimate low carb dinner. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 jar tomato paste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 3 sliced mushrooms

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a large bowl, using your hands, mix together the meat, eggs, breadcrumbs and salt/pepper. 

  3. Move meat mixture to a large piece of wax paper. Cover with another large piece of wax paper. Roll mixture out into a rectangle shape about 1/4 inch thick. Be sure that it's even and not too thin.

  4. Remove the top sheet of wax paper. Spread 3/4 of the jar of tomato paste onto the rolled out meat. Cover with 3/4 cup of mozzarella and all of the mushrooms. Leave an inch of space around the edges. Save the rest of the paste and mozzarella for later.

  5. Starting at on end, roll the mixture and place in your baking pan seam side down. Tuck in the edges and make sure there are no open spots where the cheese can leak out. Keep some water nearby and dip your fingers in as you work the meat, it will keep it from sticking to you. 

  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from over and spread the remaining tomato paste to the top and cover with remaining cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, about 10-15 minutes.

Cheesy Stuffed Meatloaf

Cheesy Stuffed Meatloaf – Pin It!

Meal Planning

Meal Planning

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One of the things that I think my husband and I have gotten pretty good at is meal planning. He likes having the week planned out and I like having a full fridge – especially now that I’m home each day. We sit down on either Saturday or Sunday and plan out what we are going to have for dinner at least through Thursday.

Benefits of Meal Planning

Sitting down and meal planning might seem daunting but there are so many benefits. My husband is the type who could have chicken/rice/beans each night, I need to switch things up. Plus it’s better for the kids to be exposed to a variety of food. Getting it done on the weekend gives us the opportunity to do our weekly grocery shop and precook anything on Sunday.

Meal planning also gives us control over what we’re eating. I know that sounds obvious but if I’m not prepared for lunch or dinner then I tend to make easy choices and most of the time easy isn’t always healthiest.

Sometimes it’s easy to jot down a few things, other times, it feels like the hugest chore. The last thing I want to do is schlep two kids to the grocery store at 4 in the afternoon – which happens to be our witching hour.

No.

Thank.

You.

So taking the time to figure it all out on the weekend saves me from that, most of the time. Worth it.

There are a ton of meal planning services that you can subscribe to that range from cooked meals delivered to your door to planned our recipes and grocery lists. I usually pull from my favorite cookbooks, websites and old standbys. I keep the days organized in my Erin Condren planner.

If you are trying to lose weight, eat healthy, stay on budget or just be more organized in the new year, then the first place to start is with meal planning. Read about how to plan weekly or monthly meals for your crockpot, batch cooking or freezer stash for your busy family. #mealplanning #recipe #organization #dinner #newyear

Cookbooks

Skinny Taste Fast and Slow – I feel in love with this website when we were doing Weight Watchers a few years ago. This cookbook doesn’t disappoint. It has a bunch of great recipes that are either ready quickly or go in the crockpot. I think I’ve made about 60% of the recipes in this book and haven’t made a bad one yet.

Roasted – this was an impulse buy at the grocery store and was a BH&G special issue. I’ve probably used this at least once a week if not for a full recipe than just as a reference on time/temperature for a certain meat or veggie.

Oprah: Food, Health and Happiness – My husband and I are opposites in a LOT of ways and our opinion on Oprah is quite different. I think she can do no wrong and this cookbook is testament to that. It’s full of AMAZING recipes, even if they are a little out of reach for the busy family. Great inspiration though and lots of healthy tips.

Websites

Social Media – anytime I see a recipe video that looks good on Facebook or Instagram, I save it to a collection and peak back at them every so often when I need some new dinner inspiration

Skinny Taste – Like I said above, I found this website when we did Weight Watchers a few years ago and it has the most delish meals. I’ve never made anything from this website that wasn’t good or didn’t need a ton of tweaking to the recipe. She has a wide variety that could fit almost any dietary need. Some of our favorites in heavy rotation are the Chicken Parm, Broccoli Cheese and Potato soup, and all of the lasagna roll ups.

Minimalist Baker – I first heard of this website through TheGoodPathSD on Instagram. We like to do meatless Monday as much as possible and this is a great vegetarian/vegan/GF resource. These Buddah Bowls got us hooked. So good and so easy to throw together.

Two Peas and Their Pod – This is a go to of mine for treats but they also have a ton of great salad and dinner ideas. All yummy and easy to make. She also offers a meal planning service.

Go To Dinners

When I don’t have time to make our planned meal or the inevitable happens and I’m missing one key ingredient and don’t want to go to the store….these are some of the things we keep on hand so we aren’t tempted to go out to eat or order take out.

Turkey Burgers (Kirkland @ Costco), Annies Mac and Cheese and roasted veggie

Orange Chicken (from the freezer section), brown rice and roasted veggie

Easy roasted Salmon, rice/mac/quinoa, veggie from the freezer

I like to make a big batch of pasta sauce to portion and keep in the freezer as well as some homemade chicken soup or Vollmer chili. Easy to defrost and get on the table quickly.

 

If you are trying to lose weight, eat healthy, stay on budget or just be more organized in the new year, then the first place to start is with meal planning. Read about how to plan weekly or monthly meals for your crockpot, batch cooking or freezer stash for your busy family. #mealplanning #recipe #organization #dinner #newyear

This Week’s Menu

Monday – Vollmer Chili – it’s a New Years Day tradition.

Tuesday – Brown sugar/mustard Salmon, roasted sweet potatoes and quinoa/brown rice. This salmon is so easy – spread the top with dijon mustard and a little bit of brown sugar. Coat with breadcrumbs and bake for 30 minutes at 375. SO DELISH.

Wednesday – Picadillo and brown rice

Thursday – Vegan Minestrone soup

Friday – Pizza Night – not sure if we will go to our local pizza joint or get the best frozen pizza there is – Against the Grain. We usually have one of the bagged salads from Sprouts along with it.

Saturday – Stuffed turkey meatloaf. This is an old recipe of mine, coming soon to the blog.

If you are trying to lose weight, eat healthy, stay on budget or just be more organized in the new year, then the first place to start is with meal planning. Read about how to plan weekly or monthly meals for your crockpot, batch cooking or freezer stash for your busy family. #mealplanning #recipe #organization #dinner #newyear

 

 

Make a Standout Cheese and Charcuterie Board

Make a Standout Cheese and Charcuterie Board

Last weekend we hosted our annual Christmas party. Each year our friends gather, bring unwrapped gifts for a local toy drive and even Santa pays a visit. It’s one of my favorite parties that we throw. It’s such a hectic time of year, it’s nice to get our close friends together for one night to celebrate.

It’s also the reason why I keep the party menu as simple as possible. This year we had Costco pizza’s (TIP: order them uncut and then you can cut them into small squares), a kale and feta salad, a couple other dips from Costco, fruit salad and a giant cheese and charcuterie board.

meat and cheese tray

I’ve done these boards for a few other parties in the last year and they are so easy to throw together but make a huge statement.

The Cheeses

I usually start with my cheese choices as the anchor. I do at least three and like to mix it up with one soft cheese and one white and one yellow.

white cheese

This time I did a smoked gouda, a giant manchego, a white cheddar and a brie. Since we were having 40 people over, I got them at Costco, but you could find good cheese in the deli department at any grocery store.

The Meats

I used a mixture of cured meats – salami and prosciutto. You could use any meat that would compliment the cheese you selected. The key to a good presentation is to pull the meats apart and “fluff” them when you set them down. It also makes it easier for guests to grab just one piece.

Folded meats

With a larger salami, I fold in half and then half again and lay it down with the edges up. This gives it depth and fills the space more. The prosciutto gets cut in half and then gathered up so that it’s easy to grab and will fit on a cracker easier.

Board Extras

For this year’s party, I put the crackers on the side of the board because I had other dips and spreads that they could be used for. Instead, I filled the rest of the space with two holiday cookie cutters with cashews and almonds.

Cookie Cutter

I also used a snowman ramekin with some pickled garlic. Since the cheeses where so large, I put the olives on the side as well.

tray with olives

To make the board a little festive, I added some grapes, sprigs of rosemary from my garden and some cranberries left over from the sangria I made for the party. The fig jam that is on the board is THE BEST fig jam on the market. It’s perfect with either a soft brie or a hard white cheddar.

Brie

I’ve done boards in the past that incorporated the crackers and the olives with the meat and cheese. I shared this board on Instagram (@nuggetlands) that I did for our Father’s Day BBQ.

Fathers Day Board

The fun about doing a cheese and charcuterie board is that it can fit any size party and any budget. You can customize it for a theme or just put out what you have in your fridge’s deli drawer. You could even do an all veggie board. The sky is the limit. One of my favorite Instagram follows is Weelicious and she does some amazing boards with her farmers market finds.

Create an amazing meat and cheese board
Pin It!

Get creative, have fun putting it together and watch as your guests are wow’d by the presentation.

A meat and cheese board is a simple and easy appetizer that you could do for any party from a summer BBQ, wedding or holiday gathering. This DIY antipasto platter can be customized for entertaining a small or large crowd. #food #entertaining #party #appetizer #cheese #holidays #BBQ #Christmas #xmas

Apple Stuffing

Apple Stuffing

Thanksgiving was always a BIG holiday in our family. Our house was filled with family, good food and even better stories. There was always a pot of chicken soup on the stove (get that recipe here) and plenty of my family’s signature stuffing.

A Thanksgiving Tradition

My Dad was very involved in the Detroit Thanksgiving Day parade and would go downtown in the middle of the night to help get the parade set up. He was always in it, along with a host of cousins, carrying giant balloons or dressed as clowns. As I got older I got to go with him and even ride on a float. We would then race home to squish the stuffing before heading to the Lions game. My mom would have all the ingredients prepped so the master could come and do his work. My Dad knew that the squish was the secret to a great stuffing and it was a job we all took very seriously.

The Method

This stuffing is quite easy to put together but takes some planning and preparation. Buy your bread a week ahead of time and cut open the loafs. I highly recommend using Wonder white bread but any loaf will work.

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Fluff them so that the bread can dry out a little bit before you trim the crust and cube it. Once it’s trimmed and cubed, lay it out for a couple days, yes a couple days, to harden. This is a crucial step. Bread that isn’t hard enough won’t absorb all the flavors your are about to squeeze into it.

When you are ready to assemble, it’s helpful to have everything on the counter and staged so that you can easily grab it to add it. Your hands will be a mess. You can make this stuffing the day before or the morning of your feast.

My Mom would always use this gadget to peel/core/slice her apples and it saves so much time.

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The Stuffing Squish

Start with half of the bread and half of all the other ingredients. Be careful to not put any hot butter or water on the eggs to avoid cooking them. Sprinkle the top with salt/pepper and a dusting of ground sage.

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Let the squishing begin. Once it’s worked through well, add the rest of the ingredients and another sprinkle of salt/petter and a generous dusting of ground sage. I have cut down on the amount of butter that was traditionally used and add very hot water in it’s place. It’s important to make sure that there are no dry bread pieces. Don’t go overboard with the water though, you don’t want it runny.

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At this point, my Dad would always do a taste test but I wouldn’t recommend it given the raw egg. He was very particular about how much sage was used and swore this was the best way to tell. Personally, I think he was just hungry.

Apple Stuffing

 

You can use the stuffing in the turkey pan or you can transfer to buttered pans and pop them in the over along with your bird. If you are cooking them alone, then give them plenty of time to cook through and take the foil off to get the top nice and golden brown.

Apple stuffing Thanksgiving side dish

Apple Stuffing

Course Side Dish
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 people

Ingredients

  • 3 loaves white bread crusts removed, cubed
  • 2 apples red delicious pealed, cored and diced
  • 3 apples macintosh or gala pealed, cored and diced
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 sticks butter melted
  • 1 cup hot water as needed
  • 8 oz chicken stock
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 1 stalk celery diced
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Allow bread to dry out for a couple days. 

  2. Combine half of all ingredients (except water) and squish together

  3. Add remaining ingredients and water (as needed), squish together to mix well. 

  4. Transfer to turkey pan or buttered loaf pans. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes covered. Remove foil for the last 10 minutes to get a golden crust.