Appetizers

Fresh Homemade Guacamole

big bowl of guacamole surrounded by chips and lime wedges

 

For me, there is nothing more satisfying then laying out a gigantic bowl of guacamole and devouring it with an arsenal of chips at hand (and friends too I guess).  What I like about guac is that it seems super fancy, but is actually really simple to make.  Not to mention, there is an added nutritional benefit from the avocado’s healthy fats!

One feature that tends to turn people off to guacamole is that it has the tendency to taste bland.  Avocados by themselves don’t have a ton of flavor, so in order to make a flavorful guac you need some reinforcements!

There are 3 key ingredients everyone needs when making guacamole, so make sure to have these on hand!

 

bowl of homemade guacamole with side of chips

 

THREE MUST-HAVE INGREDIENTS TO FLAVOR UP YOUR GUAC:

  1. Pickled Jalapeños—in my opinion, pickled jalapeños add more flavor than fresh cut ones, AND they aren’t as unpredictable when it comes to heat.  I even like to scoop out a little extra juice and drizzle it in.  If you have a spicy food aversion, don’t let this stop you from trying!  Pickled jalapeños are mostly added for flavor, not heat content.  Plus, these suckers are pretty low on the Scoville Scale!  If you prefer, start with half the recommended amount and see how it tastes 🙂
  2. Lime Juice—fresh squeezed lime juice not only helps to bring out flavor, but also slows the avocados oxidation process, preventing it from browning right away.  The acidic juices from the lime help to balance the bland flavor from avocados.
  3. Cilantro—have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE cilantro?  This herb adds the extra flavor that gives guacamole its signature taste.  Omitting it would just be a crime!

The timing of when to serve guacamole can be a little tricky, but thankfully there is still some prep work you can do before the avocado mashing commences!  If serving at my house, I like to chop the veggies ahead of time and place in a small bowl.  Then, right before serving, I’ll cut up the avocados, mash in a large serving bowl, and then mix my precut veggies in.  Lastly, I make sure to squeeze fresh lime juice right before serving.

If bringing guac to a separate location, try to whip it up close to your departure time and cover with plastic wrap.  I lay my plastic wrap right on top of the guac and then put a lid over top.  That way I can keep as much air off of it to prevent browning.  Once you are ready to serve, scoop off any browned areas and serve with chips!

 

Fingers holding a chip with fresh guacamole

 

HOW CAN I TELL IF AN AVOCADO IS RIPE?

The best way to tell an avocado’s ripeness is by touch.  When ready to eat, and avocado should be firm, yet give in a little when squeezed.  If an avocado is difficult to cut into, then it is not yet ripe and will need more time to soften up.    

On the other hand, your avocado is over-ripe if these features are present:

  • pit easily falls out when cut open
  • brown spots observed in flesh when cut open for the first time
  • brown strings in flesh

You’ll know when you have a ripe one, because it will be a beautiful green, easy to cut into, and easy to mash!

 

big bowl filled with fresh, homemade guacamole

 

Fresh Homemade Guacamole

Fresh, flavorful, and healthy guacamole that only takes a couple of minutes to whip up! Makes a great appetizer, or can be used to accompany salads, meat, or Mexican night! Includes ingredients that really bring out its flavor.
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: easy, flavorful, fresh herbs, gluten free, guacamole, healthy
Author: Lulu's Table

Ingredients

  • 6 small avocados (or 4-5 large ones)
  • 1 lime juice
  • 1/3 cup red onion chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1 roma tomato diced
  • 1.5 tbsp pickled jalapenos diced
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  • Chop onion, cilantro, tomato, and set aside in a small bowl.
  • Take each avocado and cut in half, long ways. Scoop out the pit with a spoon, and then scoop flesh intto a large mixing bowl.
  • Pour fresh lime juice over avocados. Using a potato masher, mash avocados and lime juice together until the consistency is smooth with some chunks.
  • Add in remaining ingredients and mix well. Transfer to decorative serving bowl and serve with chips. I like to serve mine with gluten free chips, like Siete or Food Should Taste Good, on top of meat, or on a salad..
Meat

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Bowl of buffalo chicken mac and cheese next to casserole dish

 

What is more deserving of the “comfort food” label than Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese?!  NOTHING.  Two of my favorite things (mac and buffalo chicken dip) combined to create a mega perfect meal.  And all you need for ultimate satisfaction is an oversized sweatshirt and your bed!

What I love about this recipe is that it’s super easy to make, and isn’t as bad as you may think!  The macaroni and cheese is made with Banza’s gluten free pasta…so no guilt trip there.  And the chicken is slow cooked with Frank’s Red Hot and garlic, to keep it lean and without any added fat, sugars, or carbs.

 

white bowl filled with buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese

 

If desired, you can bake with a butter-panko mixture and add some freshly chopped cilantro for the finishing touch!  This tends to be a favorite of mine on Sunday evenings, when my motivation to do anything is low, but my comfort-food craving is high.

 

hand holding white bowl full of buffalo chicken mac and cheese

 

Earlier in the day, I’ll start by adding 1.5-2 pounds organic chicken breasts in a crock pot, with a little broth, red hot, and garlic.  Let this cook on high for 3 hours, then shred right there in the crock pot using two forks.  If serving later, just let sit in crock pot on WARM until ready to mix in with mac and cheese.

If planning to be out of the house all day, you can cook chicken on low for 7-8 hrs.

 

cutting board with a white bowl full of buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese

 

When ready to eat, make Banza’s Macaroni and Cheese as the directions outline on the box.  Once your mac and cheese is finished, add to a small baked greasing dish.  Take shredded buffalo chicken and mix into your mac and cheese.

I add a little extra almond milk at this point, to keep everything from drying out in the oven.  If adding buttery panko crust, make sure to melt butter before mixing in panko.  Take mixture and sprinkle over top of mac and cheese to form a crust.

If you want to get even fancier, drizzle a little extra red hot on top!  Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes, add chopped cilantro, and enjoy!

 

 

casserole dish filled with buffalo chicken mac and cheese

 

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Healthy comfort food made with Banza macaroni and cheese, buffalo pulled chicken, extra red hot, and topped with panko and cilantro! So delicious, but without all the extra calories and fats!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: banza, buffalo chicken, mac and cheese, macaroni and cheese
Servings: 2 people
Author: Lulu's Table

Ingredients

  • 1 box Banza Macaroni and Cheese
  • 1-1.5 lbs organic chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup chicken bone broth
  • 1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed or chopped
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter melted
  • 3/4 cup panko
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped

Instructions

  • Take chicken, broth, garlic, and red hot, and cook on HIGH in slow cooker for 3 hours.
  • 20 minutes before planning to eat, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Make Banza Mac and Cheese according to box instructions.
  • Take finished mac and cheese, and transfer to a small greased baking dish. Pour in extra almond milk and mix in. This will help prevent it from drying out in the oven.
  • Turn off crock pot and remove lid. Using two forks, shred chicken directly in crock pot. Take 1 cup of shredded buffalo chicken (or more if you'd like), and mix into mac and cheese in baking dish.
  • Take bowl with melted butter and mix panko into it (add more panko if too liquidy). Sprinkle panko/butter mixture over top of of mac and cheese. Drizzle extra red hot over panko if desired.
  • Bake for 10 minutes with tin foil. Top with fresh chopped cilantro before serving.
Appetizers, What's New on Lulu's Table?

Orzo Salad

bowl of orzo salad on white wooden table

 

Looking back…I’m pretty sure that I grew up on this stuff.  Well this, cheese, and chicken taquitos.  

I have to sing my mom’s praise here though, because not only did she get my sister and I hooked on this as kids, but she would make my roommates and I a big batch whenever she came to visit me at college!  I would literally have to fight off my friends in order to get more than one serving (yes I am talking to you Jesse).

 

orzo salad on white wood table

 

So needless to say, this dish makes a regular appearance here at the Corna household.  Especially during warm weather months when there is fresh basil galore!

Not going to lie…this is one of my all time favorite dishes to make AND eat (more-so eat).  Here’s why I love this Orzo salad…

  1. it’s healthy
  2. all the veggies make it fun and colorful, with a ton of flavor
  3. it’s super simple to make
  4. it’s light, but you feel like you’re eating substance (which is especially nice for tailgating)
  5. won’t make you have to unbutton your jeans

I make my own vinaigrette that I mix in before serving, and I love using Banza Rice to make this a healthier gluten free orzo salad!  One bag of Banza Rice, mixed with all the veggies, will be enough for 4-6 people…but I would definitely recommend erring on the side of overdoing it because the leftovers are just as good!

 

orzo salad with wooden spoon and balsamic dressing

 

This is typically my go-to when we are headed to a friend’s house, or I need something quick to make for last minute house guests.  It’s always a crowd pleaser and the best part is that you have the ability to craft it the way you like!  Add in whatever veggies you think sound yummy, or add rotisserie chicken to make this a main meal instead of a side dish.

Tip for adding more color: use different colored bell peppers!  One bell pepper is only required for each batch, so I like to use half an orange, and half a yellow pepper to add more color.

Can’t find Banza Rice at your local store?  Click below to get a couple bags sent to your home!  The plain Banza Rice goes quickly, but there is a tri-color rice that is just as delicious!  Check which ones are in stock through the link below…

 

 

bowl of orzo salad on white wood table

 

 

Orzo Salad

A healthy Orzo Salad filled with fresh veggies, basil, feta cheese, and homemade vinaigarette. Vegetarian and gluten free appetizer.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: basil, feta, gluten free, healthy, orzo, salad
Servings: 4 people
Author: Lulu's Table

Ingredients

  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper diced
  • 1/3 cup red onion diced
  • 1 cup asparagus chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 1 8 oz bag Banza Rice cooked
  • 4 oz feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup almond slices

Balsamic Vinegairette

  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper each
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  • Cook Banza Rice according to package instructions, rinse, and set in a large mixing bowl.
  • Blanch asparagus by cooking in boiling water for 1 min. Remove, rinse, and add to rice mixture.
  • Chop remaining veggies and mix in with rice. Stir in feta cheese and almond slices.
  • Mix together all ingredients for dressing and then stir into orzo salad right before serving.