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

Mexi Steak Salad

mexican salad in large wooden bowl with avocado cilantro dressing

 

Truth be told, if I wasn’t so blatantly Irish, I would probably assume I’m of Mexican descent. ‘Cause daaaaaaamnnnn do I love to make some Mexican food.  What I love about Mexican cuisine is that the ingredients are always so fresh, colorful, flavorful…and oh my lord CILANTRO.

Let’s just get this out of the way now…I.LOVE.CILANTRO.  I know there’s some weird genetic thing that you either have the cilantro-loving gene, or you think it tastes like soap.  Well…my deepest condolences for all those aboard the cilantro soap train, because this herb tastes like magic!

 

mexican steak salad in wooden bowl with belle peppers on white table

 

Now with that being said, I’m sure it comes to no surprise that this delicious Mexican Salad is topped with a cilantro-avocado dressing!  I’m a huge fan of making my own dressings so I know exactly what’s in it.  That way, nothing unwanted sneaks into my meal (like added sugars, inflammatory oils, or unnatural chemicals).  Make in small batches, so not to waste any, because natural ingredients tend to be more perishable.

What’s great about this salad is that it uses simple ingredients and requires little hands on time from you!  There are three main areas of focus, veggies, steak, and dressing.  Everything else just needs to be dumped on at the end!

 

mexican salad in wooden bowl with mini bell peppers and lime on white table

 

VEGGIES:

  • I use different colored mini bell peppers and a red onion, cut thinly with a mandoline
  • Coat in oil and spices…I’m a huge fan of using paprika and garlic on my mexi veggies

STEAK:

  • Marinate your top sirloin in oil and garlic cloves for as long as you can.  I’ve done up to 24 hrs before.
  • Grill until cooked to your desired temperature, or cook on stove top over medium heat (high heat will burn the outside while leaving the inside uncooked).

DRESSING:

  • Take all fresh ingredients and add to a blender.  Blend until well combined!
  • Avocado, cilantro, garlic, lime, oil, and spices.

Chop your romaine lettuce, rinse a can of black beans, and as always…add a little somethin’ somethin’ for the CRUNCH!  Feel free to have fun with this and mix up the ingredients as you please!  Adding some cheese, quinoa, or different veggies can definitely add a fun twist to this Mexi Steak Salad 🙂

 

mexican steak salad with avocado cilantro dressing in large wooden bowl on white table

 

Mexi Steak Salad

Mexican sirloin steak salad filled with seasoned veggies, black beans, crunchy tortillas, and topped with a homemade avocado cilantro dressing.  A healthy, easy, and gluten free dinner recipe!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: avocado, cilantro, dinner, dressing, fajita, gluten free, healthy, mexican, salad, steak
Servings: 4 people
Author: Lulu's Table

Ingredients

  • 1-1.5 lbs top sirloin steak free range or organic
  • 4 tbsp EVOO or avocado oil
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 cup mini bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red onion thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper each
  • 1 large head romaine lettuce chopped
  • 1 15 oz can black beans rinsed

Dressing

  • 1 avocado
  • 3/4 cup EVOO or avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper each
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lime juice
  • 1 whole bunch of cilantro remove leaves from stems
  • 1 cup crushed gluten free chips I use Food Should Taste Good Gluten Free Multigrain Tortilla Chip

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, mix together 2 tbsp oil and chopped garlic.  Using a brush or spoon, rub garlic oil on front and back of steak.  Wrap in tinfoil and refrigerate until ready to cook.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
  • Using a mandoline, thinly slice mini bell peppers (hold from top at the stem and start slicing from bottom), and red onion.
  • Take sliced veggies and dump into a broil safe baking dish.  Mix in 2 tbsp oil, paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Broil for 20 min, mixing midway through.
  • While veggies are baking, grill steak to your desired temp, or cook on stovetop.  For a medium steak, cook on medium heat for approximately 5-6 min each side.
  • For dressing, add all ingredients to a blender and blend until all ingredients are combined well.
  • Rinse and chop romaine lettuce and place in large serving bowl.  Take a can of black beans and rinse.  You can leave as is, or heat up on a skillet with oil.
  • Once steak is finished cooking, cut into thin slices and lay on top of romaine. Top romaine with remaining ingredients...veggies, beans, and crushed chips.  
  • Drizzle dressing on top and serve!
Meat

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sweet Potatoes

 

SWEET POTATOES, BBQ PULLED CHICKEN, and GUAC you don’t need to pay extra for…need I say more people?!  David and I had ourselves one of these tonight for dinner, while re-watching the Buckeye game for a THIRD time.  I know, I know.  We need a hobby right? lol  As if our addict tendencies aren’t susceptible enough, we are totally obsessed with these BBQ Pulled Chicken Sweet Potatoes now!

This was the perfect meal to accompany our Sunday football binge watch session, and it easily makes enough for 4 people (or just save the leftovers for later in the week)!  I threw some chicken in the crock pot, did some house cleaning and Christmas decor prep, then baked the sweet potatoes before we were ready to eat.  Once the chicken and sweet potatoes were done cooking, I sautéed some veggies, made a bowl of guac, and then loaded that puppy up!

Not only is this dish super satisfying and filling, but the sweet potato carries a lot of beneficial nutritional value as well!  Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and various different vitamins, such as  A, B, C, and manganese.  I usually try to consume sweet potatoes with some fat, in this case the avocado in the guacamole, as fat is known to increase Vitamin A absorption.

This dish can definitely be incorporated into a week day meal by setting the crock pot cook temperature to low and cooking the chicken for 7-8 hours.  That way after work, or after the kids get out of school, you’ll have most of the work done ahead of time, and can use your time on other things!

ENJOY!

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sweet Potato

Ingredients

  • 2-4 small-medium sized sweet potatoes 1 for each person being served
  • 1 tbsp EVOO or avocado oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1-1.25 lbs organic chicken breast or tenders
  • 1/2 cup broth chicken or vegetable
  • 1 cup favorite BBQ Sauce I use Sweet Baby Rays
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper each
  • 1 bell pepper cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup red onion cut into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp EVOO or avocado oil
  • 4 green onion chopped

Guacamole

  • 2 medium sized avocados
  • 1 tbsp red onion chopped
  • 1 small roma tomato chopped
  • 1 tbsp pickled jalapeno chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 lime squeezed

Instructions

  • Add broth to crock pot, and lay chicken on top.  Grind salt and pepper to cover chicken.  Add BBQ sauce and cook on high heat for 3 hours, or low heat for 7-8 hours.
  • When chicken is done cooking, take 2 forks and pull apart chicken in the crock pot.  Leave on warm heat and set aside until time to serve.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  
  • Take sweet potatoes, rinse, and cut a line down the middle of each one going 3/4 of the way through.
  • Melt butter, oil, and chopped garlic together in a bowl. When melted, take a brush or spoon and cover the skin of each sweet potato.
  • Take covered sweet potatoes and bake on a foil-lined baking dish for 50-60 min. Potatoes are done cooking when you can easily poke with a knife.
  • While potatoes are baking, cut up 1 bell pepper, and 1/4 cup onion.  Add 2 tbsp oil to a pan and sauté vegetables over medium heat (approx. 10-12 min).  Set aside until potatoes are done cooking.
  • Right before serving, start to make guacamole.  Take 2 avocados, cut in half, scoop out pit, and throw flesh into a mixing bowl.  Take a potato masher and mash avocado until it has a chunky consistency.  Take chopped onion, tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, cilantro, lime, and mix together.  
  • When potatoes are done baking, let cool, and then pull apart from where the line was cut.  Using a tong, add a layer of veggies and pulled chicken along the center of the sweet potato.  Top with a scoop of guacamole and green onions.
  • Serve and enjoy!