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Posts Tagged ‘Avocado’

In mid-July, we were one of five couples invited to a socially responsible BBQ at a friend’s house. They put three tables together outside giving us ample space to distance ourselves. Each couple was asked to bring something and this marvellously flavourful side was one of the dishes someone brought. Everyone asked for the recipe, including me! I chose to make it as a dip for a summer evening cocktail party, socially responsibly distanced, of course. Each couple had their own plate!

The beans and lentils are packed with flavour, the salsa and lime yoghurt just up the ante.

Baja Mexican Beans and Lentil Dip with Lime Sauce and Salsa

From Bowls of Goodness: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes Full of Nourishment By Nina Olsson

For the original recipe please click here

  1. Combine all of the ingredients and set aside.
  1. Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate until needed
  • Olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 200 g dried navy beans (400 g cooked)
  • 100 g dried lentils du puy (200 g cooked)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 avocado, finely diced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  1. Cook the beans and lentil until softened, rinse.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan and add the shallots until caramelized, add the garlic and cooked beans and cook until they can easily be mashed about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Serve in a bowl or on a plate drizzled with the Baja Sauce and Salsa with baked tortilla chips

I chose blue tortilla chips because they were gluten-free and organic.

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This fresh, tasty bowl was a staple a few years ago and then I completely forgot about it. What I love about this dish is the versatility, it has a lot of fresh taste but if you don’t have something, don’t fret, just substitute it with something you have.

Presentation is always colour blocked but to eat, simply mix it all up. The dressing is super easy too, just mix and taste. The only downside is that there is a bit of prep but you can do it in advance and just assemble the dish. Below is a rough recipe for one person, just multiply it for as many as you need!

Avocado, Mango and Shrimp Bowl

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes one bowl

Ingredients for the bowl:

  • 80 g cooked salad shrimp
  • 50 g sticky rice (uncooked weight)
  • 15 mL rice vinegar
  • 1/2 an Avocado
  • 1/2 an Mango
  • 10 cm Cucumber
  • small handful Corn
  • 1 rib of Celery
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Green onions

Directions:

  1. Cook the rice and sprinkle with the rice vinegar and mix well. Allow to cool.
  2. Chop the vegetables into similarly sized cubes.
  3. Layer the rice on the bottom of the bowl, then add each of the vegetables in groups. Add the shrimp and garnish with the green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 15 mL rice vinegar
  • 15 mL hoisin sauce
  • 30 mL fresh lime juice
  • 2.5 mL toasted sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Combine the dressing ingredients and whisk until emulsified completely.
  2. Pour evenly over the bowl, making sure you get it into the crevices so that the rice is evenly coated.

Notes:

  • Add finely chopped shallots if you can tolerate raw onion.
  • Change the flavour profile completely and add chopped black olives, marinated artichokes and roasted red peppers for a Greek bowl. Make a tzatziki dressing, or a simple white wine vinegar vinaigrette and olive oil with lemon juice and chopped oregano.
  • Use defrosted frozen corn or grilled corn if you have it.

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During our time in Spain, we ate a lot of delicious tapas. One such tapa was the Ensalada de Aguacate y Atún, a simple yet spell-binding combination of tuna, avocado, lemon juice and olive oil. Using the very best of all four ingredients allows each one to shine individually and together they melt into the most magical concerto. We just couldn’t get enough of it. It was, however, not easy to find in our little town so I decided to make it part of our weekly meal plan. I made this one for our Valentine’s Day lunch.

Ensalada de Aguacate y Atún

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 150 g canned tuna in oil
  • 200 g ripe avocado, cubed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • A good drizzle of olive oil
  • Arugula

Directions:

  1. Drain the tuna and combine it with the cubed avocado and lemon juice.
  2. Spoon evenly onto a bed of arugula. Drizzle generously with olive oil.

Notes:

  • For presentation purposes, I layered the ingredients over the arugula. In reality, it is served well combined.
  • The arugula was my addition, the true dish is served on its own.

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On May 5, we hosted a Cinco de Mayo dinner party with a few friends. I’m not sure what I was thinking because I had already a very busy week planned, then my dear Mom’s widow became ill and had to be hospitalized so we were running up to the hospital he was in (about 45 minutes away) every few days (he is doing better but still in the hospital). I only had 3 days to prepare!!! I chose the menu based on foods that I can make ahead of time, knowing that they would only get better! In case you wondered, I made a variation of this dip as hors d’œuvres, this salad and for the main, this pulled chicken molé AND a Dolce de Leche tiramisu (recipe to come) for dessert. It was a bit decadent, but sometimes I really need to play in the kitchen!

This lasagna is a delicious combination of flavours and it’s worth making each layer yourself, if you must, choose canned beans to save a little time.

It’s a flavour sensation! I put a poached egg on top the next day for a very tasty brunch!

Mexican Lasagna

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 4 as a meal or 6-8 as an appetizer

Ingredients for the Pulled Pork:

  • 250 g pork tenderloin
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) stock (I used beef)
  • 250 mL (1 cup) passata (tomato sauce)
  • 125 g (1/2 cup) sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) cumin
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) coriander
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) Hungarian paprika
  • 1.25 mL (1/4 tsp) smoked paprika
  • 2.5 mL (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 1.25 mL (1/4 tsp) pepper

Directions for the Pulled Pork:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a slow cooker or crock pot and mix well.
  2. Cook on high for 4 hours or until pork is easily pulled using two forks.

Ingredients for the Lasagna:

  • 6 corn tortillas, cut in half
  • 250 mL (about 1 cup) shredded pork (recipe above)
  • 85 g (1/2 cup) dried black beans, cooked and either puréed or mashed with a fork
  • 80 g (1/2 cup) sweet onions
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) grilled corn
  • a handful (~1/4 cup) of cilantro
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) Salsa
  • 150 g (about 1 cup) Mexican cheese or mozzarella
  • cilantro, for garnish
  • loosened yogurt (in a squeeze bottle)
  • sriracha sauce mixed with loosened yogurt (in a squeeze bottle)

Directions for the Lasagna:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220° C (425° F).
  2. In a non-stick skillet, caramelize the onions, add the beans, mushing some of the beans (add some stock if necessary). Set aside.
  3. Spray a pate terrine with non-stick spray.
  4. Layer 2 half corn tortillas on the bottom of the pan, cover with 1/3 of the shredded pork, 1/3 of the mashed beans, 1/3 of the corn, 1/3 of the cilantro, 1/2 of the salsa and 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat for two more layers, leaving out the salsa on the last layer. Cover with a non-stick sprayed piece of foil or the top of the pan, if you have one.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes covered, then uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and lightly golden. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
  6. Serve garnished with a drizzle of loosened greek yogurt and sriracha sauce and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

Notes:

  • I was unable to find Mexican cheese so I used Manchego and Mozzarella.
  • If you cannot grill fresh corn, frozen is acceptable but you will miss the grilled flavour.

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vegetarianbutternutsquashchili_first

We had a bunch of dear friends for Superbowl a few weeks ago and I made this vegetarian chili. I know I’m a little late, but I wanted to capture the recipe for next year. It was delicious and it makes a huge amount (1 L or 8 cups). It has a lot of great flavours and textures, I’ll definitely add it to my repertoire for future Superbowl parties.

Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chili

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 1 L (8 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 180 g (1 cup) dried red kidney beans (soaked for 12 hours)
  • 1 small onion, diced (100 g)
  • 1 small carrot, diced (100 g)
  • 1/2 butternut squash, diced (150 g)
  • 2 celery ribs, diced (100 g)
  • 250 mL puréed tomatoes (200 g)
  • vegetable stock or water, to cover
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp red pepper paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin, toasted
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup Pearl Barley, cooked
  • 1 avocado, for garnish
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Put the beans in a pot, cover with 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Boil for ten minutes. Drain.
  2. Combine beans with everything but the frozen corn, cooked barley and the garnishes in the bowl of a slow cooker. Add enough water to cover. Cook for 8 hours on low or until beans are tender. Add frozen corn and cooked barley about 30 minutes before serving to allow to heat through.
  3. Serve with garnishes or plain.

vegetarianbutternutsquashchili

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saltedcaramelsemifreddofirst

Here in Toronto, we have a lovely grocery store chain called Loblaws; you may have heard of them through their widely distributed President’s Choice (PC) products, a high-end food product range created by Dave Nichol. What has this got to do with my recipe today? Patience grasshopper…

In recent years, Loblaws has rebranded themselves and have created a truly upscale grocery shopping experience; their stores are beautiful and inspiring. The Toronto flagship store is the Loblaws at the old Maple Leaf Gardens and they merchandise product in a visually appealing way, so much so, that a long-time shopper like me, ends up adding a few extras into my grocery cart when I shop there! In addition to an inspiring shopping experience, Loblaws offers cooking classes! Some of the cooking classes are demonstration-style and for $10 (Canadian) we watch a real Chef cook a couple of recipes to make a meal, and at the end of the demonstration we get to eat the results! And, because they promote several PC products, we are given a $10 Loblaws gift card to use at our leisure! Win/win in my opinion.

In December, they offered a special cooking class focusing on a few new premium Black Label PC products, but they only advertised it to regulars at the cooking classes. It was a bit more expensive ($15 Canadian) but SO WELL WORTH IT! I went with a bunch of friends and we made an evening of it. We cooked up some pretty amazing things that evening, Crispy Sesame Rice cakes with PC® Tuna Tataki, PC® La Belle Rivière Cheese, Cranberry and Pear Stuffed Roasted Turkey Breast with Peri Peri Kale with PC® Hollandaise Sauce. I enjoyed the turkey and Kale so much, I made it for JT for Christmas Day dinner. The pièce de resistance was the Avocado Lime and Coconut No-Bake Cheesecake, but our Chef decided to make it a semifreddo instead and he won me over. As you know, I am not much of a dessert eater, but the semifreddo was too difficult to resist, I polished off my entire slice! I have since made the semifreddo version of this tart and sweet dessert without the crust and it was very well received. Just after the holidays, I had an avocado on its way out so I thought I’d recreate the dessert using a caramel sauce I made for a Christmas party and froze the leftovers, the recipe below, Salted Caramel Semifreddo with Skor Bits is the result. I served it for a dinner party last week. It’s not much of a calorie saver (duh, caramel sauce!) but it’s a nice treat from time to time, plus did I mention it has Skor® bits?

saltedcaramelsemifreddo

This small slice bangs a lot of flavour.

Salted Caramel Semifreddo with Skor® Bits

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 500 mL (about 2 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 160 g cream cheese (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 ripe avocado (mine was on the smaller side but larger will work too)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 85 g (about 1/3 cup) caramel sauce (or to taste)
  • sea salt
  • 2 tbsp Skor® caramel bits

Directions:

  1. Combine cream cheese, avocado, lemon juice and caramel sauce in the small bowl of your food processor (I used my Cuisinart Smartstick mini processor attachment).
  2. Prepare your freezer-safe containers by spraying them with non-stick spray and lining with parchment if possible (round containers may prove difficult).
  3. Evenly sprinkle sea salt and Skor® bits on the bottom of each container and pour the cream over. Cover and freeze overnight.
  4. Using the parchment to lift out the semifreddo (or dip ever so slightly into warm water), put it on a cutting board and slice or plate. Drizzle with additional caramel sauce and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Serve immediately.

saltedcaramelsemifreddo2

I used gold sea salt to make it more festive!

Note: I was not renumerated in any way for this post, it is simply my opinion of an entertaining event in Toronto that is not too expensive.

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Gazpacho_First

Recently, my long-time blogger friend Liz, of That Skinny Chick Can Bake posted a delightful Gazpacho recipe which made me immediately crave this summer sensation! Liz’s recipe took her back to her childhood when her dear Mom recreated the recipe on a summer car vacation to Aspen after having it at a favourite restaurant. My recipe isn’t quite as romantic, in fact, it has no history nor does it conjure up childhood memories because cold soup in a Hungarian household is Sour Cherry Soup, a delicious soup made from European Sour Cherries in a lightly sweetened syrup, yogurt and cinnamon — it is delicious but it does not come anywhere near the complex flavours a Gazpacho has. Each vegetable contributes a certain aspect and my proportions are intentional. Some gazpachos are onion heavy so I used a very small French shallot, and I didn’t use garlic this time, I wanted a mellow flavoured soup with depth. Liz chose tomato juice or V-8 which adds a lot of flavour, I went with plain ordinary vine-rippened tomatoes and water — you could use a veg stock instead. I like a smooth soup so I press it through a fine sieve several times, I find the tomato seeds and the red pepper skin adds a little too much texture, and I do blend for several minutes a few times to get as much out of the pulp as possible. I loved Liz’s crouton garnish, because it adds such texture and interest but we’re going light this week and omitted it. Thank you Liz, your inspiration was perfect timing as we’ve been having 35° C (95° F) with high humidity.

To see more chilled soups that I created in the past, please click below:

Gazpacho

A full flavoured soup, perfect for hot and muggy summer days.

Gazpacho

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 1.5 L strained soup (about 4 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 300 g Red Pepper (Capsicum)
  • 125 g celery
  • 140 g zucchini
  • 100 g radish
  • 120 g cucumber
  • 15 g shallot
  • 25 g avocado
  • 430 g vine ripened tomatoes
  • 500 mL water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • mint
  • basil
  • parsley

Corn Salsa

  • 40 g sweet corn
  • 40 g cucumber, finely cubed
  • 40 g celery, finely cubed
  • 5 g cilantro, chiffonade
  • zest of one fresh lime
  • splash of lime juice
  • sea salt

Directions:

  1. Chop everything roughly and add to a large 4 L bowl. Blend with a stick blender (immersion blender) until smooth.
  2. Press through a fine sieve and blend the remaining pulp with about 500 mL of the strained soup, press through a fine sieve again. I usually repeat twice to get the most out of the pulp. Discard pulp (or compost) and refrigerate strained soup for a couple of hours.
  3. Combine sweet corn, cucumber, cilantro, lime juice and salt, stir well. Top each bowl with 1 tbsp of the salsa just prior to serving.

Note:

  • I used about 2 large mint leaves, 20 basil leaves and 4 parsley sprigs.
  • Avocado would be an excellent addition to the salsa garnish.

GazpachoWW

Based on 4 servings without the garnish.

GazpachoCalories

Based on 4 servings without the garnish.

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AvocadoHollandaise_First

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Lorraine Elliott of Not Quite Nigella, in Toronto. We’ve been following each other for four years now and when we met in person it was like we’d known one another for ever. I wanted to do something special with her so I contacted an acquaintance who produces several Food Network Canada shows and she made it happen – we spent the morning on the set of Chopped Canada, Season 3. But you’ll just have to wait to hear all about it in the new year (don’t worry, it’ll be here before you know it!).

Eva & Lorraine behind the scenes!

Eva & Lorraine behind the scenes!

Lorraine was in Toronto with the Canadian Tourism Commission and made a special request to come to Toronto to meet me! I was flattered beyond belief. For Lunch, we met up with my dear friend Barb (Profiteroles & Ponytales) and a new friend, Trudy Bloem, a Personal Chef from Ottawa (the DIL of a lovely neighbour) at one of my favourite Italian restaurants, Bar Mercurio. We shared a number of tasty dishes that I’m sure Lorraine will blog about. The CTC sure kept her busy and she saw many of the Food significant parts of TO, but not everything so I’ve invited her back! And one of these days, we’ll travel to Australia to visit her (and Charlie, Maureen & Liz)!

Lorraine wasn’t the first positive experience with an Aussie I’ve ever had, after all there was the “gravy boat incident”.

About 12 or 13 years ago, I was trying to finish off some stray pieces to our wedding China. I checked our local supplier and as I suspected it was unaffordable, so I checked eBay. I’ve purchased many things over the years from eBay and my experiences have always been exceptional. I found the exact gravy boat, you guessed it, in Australia. It was a young couple recently married and for some strange reason were given a gravy boat to a set that they didn’t want, so she was selling it for a very reasonable price on eBay. I contacted her to make sure she would ship it to Canada and she said she would. She was not registered on PayPal so she asked for a money order. No problem, but I needed an address. She gave me an address and off we went to get a money order. We don’t often need money orders so we were inexperienced (this will make sense later in the story). The money order was mailed and we waited. And waited. Weeks went by and the girl didn’t receive it. I called the post office and asked how long a letter from Toronto should take to travel to Australia and they said six to eight weeks. So we waited in the meantime corresponding with said girl almost weekly. At 10 weeks she still hadn’t received the money order but she was tired of the game so she said she would mail the gravy boat to me anyway and hope to receive the money order. I felt bad about it, so we got another money order but when we went to cancel the first one, we discovered that we had included the receipt in the original envelope so we couldn’t cancel it (read inexperienced)! I bit the bullet and got another money order anyway (still marginally cheaper than buying the gravy boat in Toronto). I wanted to make sure I had her correct address so I asked her to confirm. You guessed it, she had given me the wrong address the first time (sweet girl but…) so the new money order was mailed and within a week the gravy boat arrived! Then two days later the girl wrote to say the second money order arrived and that she would destroy the first one if it ever arrived. I’m not kidding you, a day later we received back the first money order (with receipt) marked “unknown address, return to sender”! This drama took over three months! We were able to get a refund with the original money order, I got a deal on the gravy boat and a great story out of it! Do you have any cool stories like this? Share in the comments.

If I were serving this avocado hollandaise at home, I would have definitely used the Australian gravy boat, but I served it at the cottage for a tasty vegetarian breakfast!

Ready4Hike_6259

It’s still quite buggy in Canada’s north so we were well prepared with our bug shirts!

Vegan Avocado ‘Hollandaise’ Sauce

Makes about 3/4 cup of ‘hollandaise’ sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 small very ripe avocados
  • 1/2-3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Purée everything together until very smooth adding water until desired consistency is achieved, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Serve warm or room temperature.

Notes:

  • This is a much ‘lighter’ feeling sauce than the traditional eggyolk-butter-based version.
  • I didn’t want to add more lemon juice as I feared it might make the sauce bitter so instead I added a teaspoon of white vinegar and a tablespoon of Dijon, it was a flavourful sauce.
  • Add only as much water to the sauce to achieve the consistency that you want. I wanted mine pourable and I almost used the entire 3/4 cup, just a hair less.
AvocadoHollanadaise

I served this on Asparagus and Spinach bennies one weekend.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 1.42.27 PM

This is 1/4 of the total yield of sauce

This is traditional Hollandaise Sauce made with 4 eggs and 1/2 cup of unsalted butter. Although the calories are fewer than the avocado version, take a look at the fat and cholesterol!

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TurkeyChiliFirst

JapaneseCherryBlossoms

The Japanese Sakura Cherry Blossoms in High Park

CherryBlossomTree

Our Cherry Blossom tree in the front yard

Cinco de Mayo Inspired Turkey Chili

A Kitcheninspirations Original Recipe

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight in water
  • 250 g sweet onions, chopped
  • 25 g garlic, finely chopped
  • 300 mL tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 500 mL water and or chicken stock
  • 900 g ground turkey breast
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 5 g dried ancho chili (seeds and veins removed)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 30 mL tequila (a nice smokey one)

Garnish:

  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced thinly
  • 10 tbsp Greek Yogurt (approx 150 mL)
  • 10 tbsp mozzarella cheese
  • handful of Cilantro, or to taste
  • 3-4 Green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 red chili pepper, finely sliced

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat slow cooker on high. Rinse beans and add to the slow cooker along with the onions, garlic, tomato sauce, tomato paste and the water and/or stock and give it a good stir.
  2. Brown the turkey meat in a very hot cast iron pan in batches. Add the browned turkey and juices into the slow cooker in batches. Once you have browned all of the turkey, remove the pan from the heat and deglaze the pan with the tequila, scraping off all the delicious turkey bits from the pan. Add this liquid into the slow cooker.
  3. Give the chili a good stir. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or until the beans are fork tender. If the chili is too liquidy, then remove the lid for the final hour of cooking.
  4. Serve hot garnished with sliced avocado, a tablespoon of yogurt or sour cream, cilantro, chopped green onion, shredded mozzarella cheese and finely sliced peppers.
Based ib 10 Servings

Based on 10 Servings

It's heavy on the points but high on flavour.

It’s heavy on the points but high on flavour.

TurkeyChili

A delicious Mexican Flavoured Chili

Ladies Night May 2015

Ladies Night May 2015

LadiesNight2

I should have set up the tri-pod for an all in shot.

 

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For a luncheon one weekend at the cottage, I served the Empanadas because I wanted something reasonably fast as we were leaving to get back to the city. While the Empanadas were warming in the oven, I put this simple, yet tasty salad together. The salad really should have been entitled The Kitchen Sink Salad because in all honesty I was just trying to use up some ingredients we had left on our cottage weekend. It’s a delightful combination of salty, sweet and peppery. If you don’t like feta, add some crispy fried bacon. But don’t leave out the watermelon or avocado!

salad

Watermelon, Avocado and Feta Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cubed watermelon
  • 2 ounces feta
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • a handful or two of arugula and spinach mix
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • t tsp Dijon mustard

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients to the arugula mix.
  2. In a small glass jar, combine the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and Dijon and shake vigorously to combine.
  3. Toss salad just before serving.

 

Empanada and salad2

A really tasty lunch.

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At the cottage we like to sit back and relax, put up our feet, read a good novel, scan some trashy magazines and on occasion have been known to enjoy a cocktail or two ;-). Simple is usually what I lean toward because of the effort one needs to make to bring everything up for the weekend. I know I’ve posted a guacamole recipe before (here and here) and even got flak for calling this one mocamole, but I thought I’d share a super simple rustic version made with the ripest avocado for a light snack at the cottage. This recipe has only 5 ingredients and you need only one bowl, a fork and a knife to make it. See, I told you it was simple.

Guacamole2

This dip comes together very quickly; I disappeared for less than five minutes to make it, our guests were surprised I made it from scratch so quickly!

Super Simple Guacamole

Makes about 3/4 to 1 cup of dip but it depends entirely how big your avocado is

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1-2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 5 small grape tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro and a sprig or two for garnish

Directions:

  1. Scoop out the flesh from the avocado, no need to be gentle as you will mash it with a fork.
  2. Mash the avocado with a fork (I told you so).
  3. Add the garlic and the lime juice and mix well.
  4. Fold in the chopped tomatoes and cilantro.
  5. Garnish with cilantro.
  6. Serve with celery sticks, cucumber rings, or crackers.
Guacamole

I love that mashing with a fork still leaves you with some lovely, creamy chunks of avocado.

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These days life goes like this
Wake up, check that off of some list
Gotta be a little something more than this
The bottom of my coffee cup.**lyrics from Bon Jovi’s Summertime

We’ve talked about lists before (here and here), it’s nothing new and as I was compiling yet another list I started to wonder how many lists I’ve made over the years. I usually start a templated list if I find myself creating the same list more than twice, or if I do the same stupid thing twice, or …

At the risk if sounding a little crazy (ok, maybe a bit more than a little!) I thought I’d share a few more lists I keep (don’t worry, it’ll just be the titles, not the entire list!)

Books that I’ve read (title and author): I started this list about 27 years ago after a couple of times I had purchased the same book twice because they had changed the cover graphic and I thought it was a new novel from that author (soooo annoying)! I wish I had done the same for movies (I tend to block out the ones that sucked and for some reason we keep wanting to watch them).

Menus for dinner parties: again, this list goes back 20 years, started it so I wouldn’t duplicate meals for the same guests. I used to keep this list in a notebook but about five years ago have switched over to electronic lists in my Notes/Reminders on my iPhone.

Preferences or allergies of my friends and family: This is really a no-brainer because it keeps things simple and you won’t poison one of your friends.

Work outfits: I started this list for my very first full-time job so I wouldn’t wear the same thing twice in a week; the list took a hiatus for about fifteen years (read, I got bored) but I’ve recently started it again because my memory isn’t as good as it used to be.

General household measurements, like table sizes for table cloths, window sizes etc.

General shopping lists for standard items, for example  I keep a list of everything I buy at Costco and then I need only to check off the things I need on that trip.

Wish lists, we always seem to come up blank when we ask each other what we’d like for Christmas, but I know darn well we had a bunch of things in mind over the year.

My favourite restaurants: from time to time I am asked where to eat out in TO so instead of reinventing the wheel, I keep a running list that I review every so often and that way I just copy and paste that list into an email.

My shopping routes in NYC, Chicago and Paris: I know that sounds pretentious but we don’t go that often that I sometimes forget about that little tucked away place (kitchen gadget store), plus it’s handy if I get asked.

Travel wardrobes: This is a list of outfits I put together for various holidays, it’s handy if we go to the same place at the same time of year, I start with that list and amend as necessary. This list also helps me remember all the accessories needed for specific outfits (I’ve forgotten a belt or scarf before and that just makes me annoyed because I refuse to buy something I already have a perfectly good one at home). It also helps me maximize the clothes by coordinating pieces to make more than one outfit. Somehow I always end up tossing in a few extra things just in case (never can have too many shoes, Kristy!)

General ideas: in the old days I’d keep a pad and paper beside my bedside just in case I come up with something great in the middle of the night, now it’s in my iPhone.

Christmas Baking: I like to change it up a bit year to year and a year is a year!

Christmas cards: to whom I sent and from whom I received.

Cottage menus: but you already know that: I found a Meal a Plan app that I’m trying out, it stores recipes and pantry items (including inventory), you create a meal plan calendar and it pulls your shopping list for you. Once I’ve used it a few more times, I’ll do a review.

Blog post ideas: self explanatory.

So you see, I’ve designed my list keeping in a way that will save me time and headaches for things I do often! And there is one more list for this post: the ingredient list for this tasty recipe. This recipe just happened one morning at the cottage when I didn’t just feel like a plain poached egg on toast. Combining the rich avocado and setting it off with the sweet watermelon really worked; I also added a drizzle of balsamic just to make things interesting.

Do you make lists to help keep you organized or because you have a bad memory? Share what you make a lists of in the comments, it may help someone organize a bit better.

PoachedEgg_2791

A surprisingly tasty combination of flavours!

Watermelon, Avocado, Tomatoes and a Perfectly Poached Egg on Arugula

Makes enough for lunch for two

Ingredients:

  • handful or two of arugula, washed and dried
  • 2 slices watermelon, cubed
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 4 compari tomatoes, cut into quartered
  • 2 eggs, poached perfectly
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. On each of two plates, place a handful of arugula, casually top with cubed watermelon, sliced avocado, quartered tomatoes and one perfectly poached egg.
  2. Combine balsamic, EVOO, Dijon and salt and pepper (be careful though, the Dijon has a lot of salt in it already) and whisk. Drizzle over each salad evenly.

The runny yolk adds to the richness of the dressing, that’s why the dressing is just drizzled and not tossed!

 

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I found this clever idea in the latest LCBO magazine. My vases were a little smaller than the idea in the magazine so some of my tulips had to stick out at the top.

I found this clever idea in the latest LCBO magazine. My vases were a little smaller than the idea in the magazine so some of my tulips had to stick out at the top.

Recently, we hosted a dinner party for guests who were doing Weight Watchers and because I don’t like to sabotage anyone’s journey to a healthy weight I decided to make the entire meal WW friendly and that meant putting my thinking cap on.  Now I don’t know about you, but I adore guacamole, it’s so creamy, fresh and tangy and it really enhances a few dishes as a condiment but may also be used as a wonderful dip with fresh vegetables!

Now I know what many of you will say, “but wait, avocados are a good fat” and while that is very true, it’s all about balance and budget so if you can save a little here you can spend it there (perhaps on an extra glass of vino?), is all I’m saying!

Before I even searched on line, I had the idea of creating a mockamole from spinach. Why spinach? I chose spinach because #1 it’s a gorgeous green and you can purée it smooth uncooked and #2 it fits well into the WW point system.  Once I determined what my basic ingredients would be, I started to search “mockamole” on the net and found that the majority of them are made with green peas. Now green peas are quite healthy but when I did the nutritional calculation using peas, my 1 tablespoon mockamole resulted in 1 WW point whereas my spinach mockamole resulted in 0 points for 1 tablespoon. So that was it.

Guacamole is a simple yet flavourful combination of ingredients and other than subbing out the avocado, I kept it pretty true to form. I used 4 tablespoons of cooked puréed navy beans as my ‘creamy’ ingredient and it worked out great. I loved the bright green colour as well as the bright flavours in this recipe. JT said it was an excellent substitute for real guacamole! It’s quite garlic-y so if it’s date night, you may wish to tone it down a notch or make sure your partner has some too ;-)!

Mockamole_2308

May I interest you in a little dip?

Mockamole (Spinach ‘guacamole’)

Makes about 3/4 cup.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g fresh spinach (may be frozen)
  • 4 tbsp navy bean paste (see notes)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) lime juice
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp green onion, finely chopped
  • Cilantro or parsley for garnish
  • Chopped tomatoes (optional)

Directions:

  1. If using frozen spinach, wring out well. If using fresh spinach, wash and dry well.
  2. Combine the spinach, navy bean paste, garlic, lime juice and cilantro in a small food processor and process until very smooth (I found my immersion blender did this beautifully). Fold in chopped tomatoes if you are adding them.
  3. Add chopped green onion and garnish with a sprig of cilantro. Serve with cucumber slices, celery sticks or cauliflower florets or use in a meal that requires guacamole as a condiment.
Mockamole_2310

Choose vegetables that hold onto the dip like a spoon!

Mockamole_2303

The cooked puréed beans give this dip its creamy texture.

Mockamole_2306

Who are you calling “dip”?

Per 1 tbsp serving

1 tbsp serving

Per 1 tbsp per serving.

1 tbsp serving.

Notes:

  • Navy bean purée: I usually make up a batch of plain navy beans for thickening soups, sauces and gravies and then freeze for later use. Cook navy beans in water without salt. Purée and press through a fine sieve. Allow to cool completely and put 1 tbsp portions into an ice cube tray (specifically for savoury things) and freeze. Once frozen, take each cube and put it into a larger ziplock bag and that way you have a creamy gluten-free thickening agent for future recipes.
  • If you add too much liquid to the puréed spinach mix, strain for a couple of hours in a coffee filter reserved for savoury things before serving.
  • To blanch spinach quickly, add spinach to a heat proof bowl with about 1/2 cup water and nuke for about 2-4 minutes until soft. Rince with cold water and wring out well.

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Today is my dear Mother’s birthday; were she alive, she would have been 78 years young!

Happy Birthday Mom, I miss you.

Happy Birthday Mom (21 in this photo), I miss you.

Several years ago we dined at Diego, a lovely Mexican restaurant in the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas and I had a wonderful Ceviche that I have not been able to forget. It was an unusual combination of coconut milk and lime juice that just hit my taste buds perfectly. I adore ceviche and order it whenever I see it on a good restaurant’s menu and have not had the pleasure of these flavours together in one since. So, I thought I’d take a stab at it and create an opportunity to use one of my pearls in the process! Clever, don’t you think?

I’ve made ceviche before, the non-cheater kind but I wanted to put this together quickly for an hors d’œuvres recently and I didn’t feel like waiting for the acid to ‘cook’ the shrimp so I came up with this ‘cheater’ version. You can make the ceviche the old fashioned way, but this really worked out well!

I would have liked to add cubed avocado to this dish but sadly forgot to put it on my shopping list! I’ll remember next time, this is a very quick and tasty recipe.

It’s also rather coincidental in this cyber world how we all post about similar things so I can’t go without mentioning my dear Australian Blogging friend Lorraine who just last week posted this gorgeous recipe about real ceviche. Great minds think alike…please don’t finish the last part of this saying, it kinda bursts my bubble!

CheaterCevicheSpoons_2007

It’s just as tasty and doesn’t take long to make.

Cheater Shrimp Ceviche

Makes ~200 mL Ceviche (slightly more than 3/4 cup), or 8 single serve Chinese Spoons

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut milk powder
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated finely
  • 1 tbsp rosa’s lime cordial
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 80 g cooked cocktail shrimp, chopped
  • 3-4  slices of English Cucumber (0.5 cm or 1/4″ thick) cubed
  • 1 celery rib, cubed
  • 1/4 cup avocado, cubed
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp green onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika pearls

Directions:

  1. Combine the coconut milk powder, finely grated ginger, lime cordial and lime juice in a measuring cup and blend until smooth with a stick blender.
  2. Combine the chopped shrimp, cubed English cucumber, avocado (if I had some) and celery with the cilantro and green onion, toss with the coconut milk dressing to coat evenly.
  3. Serve immediately garnished with the smoked paprika pearls.
CheaterCeviche_2004

A refreshing combination of flavours.

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Hi everyone, hope you all had a great weekend. I thought I would post a public service message in this post. As most of you know by now, I do most of my commenting using my iPhone 4s just because it’s more convenient and I am able to read and comment on the go! What some of you don’t know is that WordPress so generously provides Mobile Device optimization (I’m sure the other webwares do as well, I just don’t know how to set it up) which means that when I go to your WordPress blog on my phone, WordPress recognizes that I’m checking it out on my mobile device and reformats it to the best viewing configuration. Cool huh?

I have to zoom in so I could read it.

This is the example that is Not Optimized for Mobile.
I have to zoom in so I could read it.

This is optimized for my mobile device. See how WordPress compacts everything so it's easy to navigate and read?

This is optimized for my mobile device.
See how WordPress compacts everything so it’s easy to navigate and read?

But some of you don’t have this turned on, so this is the public service bit. On your computer, go to your Dashboard and click “Appearance”, then “Mobile” in the menu across the far left. Click “yes” to enable mobile theme and that way your images and text will be formatted to look the best on the mobile device. By clicking yes to “show excerpts on front pages instead of full posts” gives you a reader digest version of the post, which makes it much easier if you are looking for something specific.

Mobile Optimization 1

See Mobile at the bottom? Highlight it.

Mobile Optimization 2

I’ve set my options they way I want my blog to look on your mobile device.

And while I’m at it, I also noticed that some of you don’t have a “search” button on your site (mobile or not), which I personally find frustrating when I’m trying to source a recipe I remember reading about on your blog. In WordPress, it is in “Appearance” under “Widgets”; you will need to add the search widget so it’s on your blog.

And not that I am any expert in blogging or Google, I recently found out that Google reads content and the more robust your content is the more likely it will come up on the first page when someone Google’s something you’ve blogged about (ever wonder why Wiki is usually first on a search? It’s subject specific content!). Why did I bring this up? Well, it’s because I used name my photos IMG 12345_BLOG.jpg, which to Google means absolutely nothing. So to increase the ‘value’ of content on your blog, name your photos what it is so that Google can read it, for example Pesto.jpg. You can also add alternative text which also increases its search capability, for example, for my pesto photo, I might add basil pesto as the alternative text.  Now if you will excuse me, I have a lot of work to rename my 1,712 images! Back to regular programming.

Remember the crab legs we bought for Christmas Eve when my brother cancelled Christmas because the kids were sick? We froze them in good thick plastic bags for another time and I’m so glad I did. Two of the four legs made this salad and it was absolutely delightful. I used Thai flavours to bring out the fresh, sweet flavour of the crab. I will make it again it’s a very tasty salad.

Crab and Avocado Salad

IMG_4089_BLOG

The King Crab is very flavourful, so you really don’t need much.

Serves 4 as an appetizer portion

Ingredients:

  • 2 large King crab legs, cooked, shelled and cut into bite sized pieces.
  • 1/4 cup sweet yellow corn
  • 1/2 an avocado, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped and a few sprigs for garnish
  • 1 green onion, chopped finely.
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 handfuls of baby arugula
  • 2 tbsp of the 19-ingredient slaw apricot dressing

Directions:

  1. Combine the king grab legs, sweet yellow corn, avocado, cilantro and green onion. Set aside.
  2. Combine the lime juice and sugar so that the sugar melts.
  3. Toss the crab salad with the lime dressing to coat well.
  4. Toss the arugula with the 19-ingredient slaw dressing to coat well.
  5. Plate a handful of the arugula on each plate and top with the crab salad. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro.
  6. Serve cold.

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I’m always looking for something new and different and when I saw a Wheat Berry Salad on my friend Angie’s blog, Taste of Home, I knew I had to try it at least once. Angie cooks with a lot of whole grains, always healthy and always inventive. She is also a master of bread making, her loaves are gorgeous, appetizing and did I say gorgeous?

I had never heard of wheat berries before reading Angie’s post and I am so glad that I did see it and was inspired to make it. Thank you Angie, I know I will make this grain again and again.

Wheat Berries look very similar to pearl barley, but they are darker in colour and apparently have a nuttier taste. They are a very dense grain and therefore many sites suggest pre-soaking. I soaked my berries overnight and it still took about an hour of boiling. They have more of a bite than barley and are a bit chewier, which I liked, but JT did not.  I have found that you will need a ratio of 3 or 4 parts water to 1 part wheat berries. You can substitute wheat berries anywhere a grain is used, for example rice pilaf or even risotto!

The avocado and the mango are a nice contrast in textures to the wheat berry

Wheat Berry Salad

Serves 4, Inspired by Angie, Taste of Home, Wheat Berry and Watermelon Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup wheat berries, soaked over night
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1 Mango,  cubed
  • 1/2 chopped cilantro
  • 1 roasted red pepper, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook wheat berries in 3-4 cups of water, about 1 hour (at around 45 minutes check to see if you like the texture, and if you do, stop cooking).
  2. Add the cubed avocado, mango and chopped red pepper. Drizzle with the lime juice and salt to taste. Mix in the cilantro. Serve warm or cold as a side to a BBQ’d dish.

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My friend, Sawsan over at Chef in Disguise made this salad and posted it early this week and by luck we had all the ingredients on hand and by that same luck we needed something to go with our oven roasted Salmon. I can honestly say it was delicious, the flavours and textures really worked well together, please pop over to Sawsan’s blog and check out her photos (it was dark by the time I snapped the shots and my photos are pitiful!). If you don’t have salmon to eat with it, a little goats cheese would be very tasty indeed!

I left out the pomegranate seeds as they are now out of season and were $7.00 for a very small container! We should have substituted pine nuts for the pomegranate seeds…next time. Sawsan gave me a great tip, she said she buys her pomegranate when on sale and she seeds them into a little container and freezes them for just this type of application! That’s just genius, thank you for sharing that great tip!

Thank you Sawsan for another wonderful recipe.

I used a square form, the round one would have worked out better!

Layered Avocado Beet Citrus Salad

Serves 3 (I made extra for lunch the next day)

Ingredients for the Salad:

  • 4 Beets, roasted until fork tender, peeled and cubed
  • 2 oranges sectioned and cut into cubes (juice reserved)
  • 1 medium avocado, cut in half, pit removed and cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups arugula leaves, cleaned and dried

Ingredients for the Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (one to two oranges)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard

Directions for the Dressing:

  • Combine all ingredients into a small jar and shake well. Refrigerate.

Directions for assembly:

  • Arrange the arugula leaves in the centre of the plate.
  • Place a plating ring or square (7 cm) on top of the arugula leaves.
  • Layer with the beets then the avocado and finally the oranges.
  • Remove the ring and drizzle with the dressing.
  • Enjoy!

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Re the tomato post yesterday, I also got a very ripe avocado yesterday from our very generous client (we split the good stuff three ways!) so it got me thinking… what to make? Guacamole, but of course! It’s Friday and we always have a cocktail or two on Fridays, and I never serve booze without some food. Cocktails are usually at 5:30-6 on a Friday, 4-5 on a Saturday!

Easy Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 very ripe avocado
  • 2-4 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp finely grated garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 finely chopped jalopeño pepper reserve about a 1/2 tsp for garnish)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Put everything into the jar of an immersion blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with reserved jalopeño.
  2. Serve with crackers.
  3. Eat. (borrowed this complete direction from Greg)

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The sun is setting earlier and the temperatures are not reaching the highs that July gifted us. A tree in my neighbourhood has already begun to change colour which means the evening temperatures are dipping lower and lower. The Canadian National Exhibition has been in full swing for a 9 days already. And with that Autumn is fast approaching on Summer’s heals. Sadness at the loss of yet another year pokes at my heart, but as soon as my feet grow accustomed to wearing full shoes and socks, I become excited to dive into my fall wardrobe and of course, my wonderful collection of boots. BBQs, chilled soups and refreshing salads are soon to be replaced by warmer, heartier foods and with that, the house becomes alive again with the wonderful aromas of autumn foods. But I digress. I still have time for one more salad!

A couple of bloggers I follow were recently on the East Coast enjoying the plentiful sea foods offered out there, so I began hankering for a simple shrimp salad. Of course, I’ll make enough to have for lunch at work tomorrow.  And as usual, I’ll take my inspiration from Epicurious, but adding my own twist.

Spicy Shrimp Salad

Spicy Shrimp Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cooked medium shrimp, peeled, de-veined, tail off (I hate messing with my fingers when there is a dressing or sauce all over them)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-4tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1 avocado diced (lightly sprinkled with the lemon juice so it doesn’t turn brown)
  • 1/2 cup mini tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 2 garlic scapes, finely chopped
  • Handful of baby arugula, per person

Directions:

  1. Combine mayonnaise and seasonings in large bowl, add shrimp and avocado and gently mix well to coat.
  2. Create a bed of arugula and add the vegetables in the centre. Spoon on top the shrimp avocado mix. Garnish with green onions and chopped scapes.

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I found this recipe on my iPhone Epicurious ap and loved the flavours and look of it (the pomegranate are like little jewels, and you know how I love jewels!). The original recipe contains Mango instead of Corn but I may be allergic to Mango (puffy lips incident) so I altered the recipe and replaced the Mango with Corn and of course, I altered the recipe to my taste. The proportions don’t really matter, use what you have on hand – double or triple this works well. This is an iPhone photo, so it’s a little dark.

Corn Pomegranate Guacamole

  • 1 ripe avocado (about a 1/2 cup)
  • 2 finely chopped green onions
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 – 1 fresh green chile, finely chopped (remove seeds and veins to make the dish less hot!)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, or to taste
  • finely zested lime
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (from 1 pomegranate)
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn which have been thawed but not cooked
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  1. Halve, pit, and peel avocado, chop into similar sized pieces as the corn and pomegranate seeds.
  2. Add lime juice to avoid discolouration.
  3. Stir in green onion, garlic, chili, lime rind, and salt, then fold in pomegranate seeds, corn, and cilantro.
  4. Season with salt and additional lime juice.
  5. May be made up to one day in advance. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, this will stink up your refrigerator.
  6. Serve with blue corn nacho chips or flatbreads.
  7. Enjoy!

Corn Pomegranate Guacamole on FoodistaCorn Pomegranate Guacamole

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