Guacamole

What makes a good guacamole?  Fresh ingredients are the key but there are a few surprising others.  We went to Texas to visit family and embarked on a guacamole find, in search of the best of the best.

So where did we go, what did we discover and the real question, can we duplicate that which we found?  Our target was traditional and old family restaurants well known for their Mexican Food that have been key to shaping Mexican Food in their city and in my opinion, in the United States.

In Houston, we chose to have lunch at Mama Ninfa’s and the Original Location downtown.  I had been to two other location, one in the suburbs of Houston and one in Lafayette, LA, now closed.  It was a treat to go to the original, to have a margarita in the middle of the business day and to enjoy food that truly has shaped what we know to be Tex-Mex in our country.  This is not a restaurant review but let me say that it was superior food, service and an environment that was simply wonderful.

Here is a bit about Ninfa’s.

http://ninfas.com/

Established in 1973, the Original location is located at 2704 Navigation Blvd, Houston, TX 77003.

Guacamole is the first appetizer on their website menu and lists the ingredients as follows; avocados, jalapenos, onions, cilantro, tomatoes and fresh lime.  So, this dish is wonderful, fresh and simply fantastic.

In San Antonio, we went to a traditional restaurant called Boudro’s.

http://www.boudros.com/

Located on the Riverwalk, the atmosphere is spectacular.  It is larger than you would think from the appearance outside, food is fantastic and the guacamole is well known.

Ingredients: 

Juice of ½ of an orange

Juice of ½ of a lime

1 avocado seeded and scooped out of skin – cut and not smashed

Approximately, 1 Tablespoon of diced red onion

½ Tablespoon of chopped cilantro

2 Tablespoons of roasted and diced tomatoes

½ – 1 teaspoon of sea salt

Spicy?  They add 1 teaspoon of serrano pepper finely diced.

We didn’t order it spicy and the flavors were fantastic.

Boudro’s and Ninfa’s

Bottom line regarding Ninfa’s and Boudro’s, their guacamole is fantastic, styles are different and we now make it following Boudro’s recipe because we love the addition of the orange and have been able to duplicate it.  When we arrived at my sister’s home, we went to Boudro’s with a large party of family members.  And then, we made guacamole at her house that evening for dinner so the others who were not able to go could try it and we made it again the following evening for dinner.  Yes indeed, you will love it as well.

Vegan Cajun Mayonnaise

If you haven’t tried Cajun mayonnaise, you are missing out and this recipe is very versatile.   This is simple to make and has so many uses, I will reference using this periodically so that you will begin to notice.  You can use Cajun mayonnaise in any way that you might use sour cream, dressing or mayonnaise.

 

Ingredients:

¾ cup of Vegenaise

4 oz of vegan cream cheese

This makes the mayo thicker so if your desire is to  have a thinner mayo double the Vegenaise and skip this but I enjoy using this and I keep it in the refrigerator.

2 long squirts of all-natural ketchup

Important that it have few ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup.  It actually tastes different and so much better.

1 teaspoon of Tabasco Sauce (there is no substitute)

½ teaspoon of Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning (also no substitute)

 

Directions and Uses:

Whisk together, taste and adjust accordingly.  You will find so many uses for this, it will become a household staple in your refrigerator for sandwiches, tacos, baked potatoes and for dipping veggies.

Strawberry Salad

1 large bag of shredded romaine or 3 hearts of romaine, cleaned, cut and shredded

1 small can of mandarin oranges

½ cup of pecans roasted; place in a skillet with 1 tablespoon of smart balance, toss on medium heat until they are lightly browned

½ cup of feta

Briannas’ Strawberry Vinaigrette with a large strawberry on the bottle.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and toss prior to eating.  I take this salad to parties routinely and separate the ingredients until just before I serve it at which time I toss all ingredients together.

This salad is delicious, fast, easy and great to transport for an event today or tomorrow as the ingredients are kept separate and as such preserved.  After mixed, the salad is good for the current meal and one meal after.

Mexican Salad

Dressing:

½ cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves

½ cup lime juice

½ cup olive oil

½ cup sour cream (I use vegan)

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

Blend these ingredients in a blender or food processor and set aside dressing.

 

Salad:

1 package of shredded romaine lettuce or 3 romaine hearts cut

5 plum tomatoes, chopped

1 (15 oz) can of black beans, rinsed and drained

1 small purple onion, chopped

1 (8 oz) package of shredded cheese (I use shredded vegan mozzarella)

1 (15 oz) can of whole kernel corn drained

1 (6 oz) can sliced ripe olives drained or 1 (15 oz) can of whole black olives drained and sliced

Place these ingredients in a bowl, add the dressing and toss until thoroughly mixed.  Serve with your favorite corn chips.

Fresh Fruit Smoothies in San Antonio – Amazing

Okay, traveling is fun and tasting new things that are special to the culture of the area in which we travel makes the trip more memorable and special.  People are more likely to remember when more of their senses are involved in the learning process.  So, if we want our family vacation memories to be embossed in memories and that of our children and family members, using all of our senses is a great way to do so.

Remember, when you are with family and you travel that it is a wonderful opportunity to positively anchor your trip with your senses; seeing, smelling, exercising, experiencing all make you remember your adventures and your time with family and friends and the experiences.

In our case we experienced a frozen all fruit smoothie that really hit the spot.  But here is the kicker, we can do this.  We can integrate these tasty fresh treats into our diet with relative ease and in the south, this will be a good addition.

Chris had a frozen version that was spooned out and served with a very wide straw.  Not to worry it melted quickly in the Texas summer.  His was coconut, pineapple and ice frozen as a pina-colada without alcohol.   The interesting thing about it is the coconut was machine cut and not shredded flakes.

I had more of a drink version that was made with fresh strawberries and pineapple and blended with ice.  The pineapple served to sweeten it and it was fantastic.  They asked if I wanted added sugar and whipped cream but I declined both.

Fresh fruit from the fruteria is common in San Antonio and there are so many options for how you can eat it as a treat with family and friends that if you have a chance to experience this and are from somewhere where this isn’t offered, frankly you will wonder why.  Seriously, this Hispanic tradition is something that we must get on board with although new to the fun, I can’t quite get a grip on adding chili pepper to my fruit dish.  I can feel myself getting adventurous and I am sure that my return trips will cause me to break free of my traditional and limited use of fruit.

Vitamix, My New Kitchen Appliance and Cooking Tool

Do you have one?  I didn’t until recently.  I bought the mid-level model and it is perfect for our use.  I am going to offer you recipes and my use of the machine to help you get used to using yours.  Please feel free to share your recommendations with me.  If I don’t post quickly, it is because I feel the need to make a recipe before I recommend.  So, after I make your recipe, I will post it of course giving you credit for your creation.  If I modify after you send me one and I have made it, I will post as mine and mention that you sent me a recipe and I modified it again, crediting you for the original and with my additions so that readers can choose.

We don’t BBQ on a grill.  We don’t even grill any longer.  So, paying a premium for a kitchen tool like a Vitamix is something I feel I can splurge on and I feel it aids me in cooking healthy meals; vegan, vegetarian, whole foods for my family.  I get excited to have a new appliance and I generally use it frequently and integrate it into my cooking regiment.  If you are considering purchasing a Vitamix, or if you are as I described above, please allow me to indulge myself with your time and attention.  You see we went to the Birmingham, AL Summit location of Sur La Table.  Both of the employees working that evening and we were there at the end of the evening, were engaged in our discussion, excited to share and one of them we exceptionally knowledgeable about these machines.  So please let me share a little about them and my new experience using them.

The top of the line unit is all digital.  Great if money is no object but I kind of like doing what I need and what I want to do with a few less digits and a few more dials.  Old fashioned, I know but I fear the failure of the digital.  These machines have a better than industry standard warranty, 7 and 10 years, so not to worry for that part but the interesting thing to me is how it works.  Now let’s stop here for a minute.  Do you have any kitchen appliance with a  7 or a 10 year warranty – nope.

A little about the company – made in America and made in Ohio, my home state, Vitamix is

If you add cold, ice and blend it will actually freeze like ice cream.  If you add warm, blend and intend to make as a soup, it will come out hot enough to eat.  Yes, very neat because there is really no need to heat further unless you want to add a little extra warmth and then, I just microwave for a minute or two and my dinner prep and cooking is finished.  Here is my simple broccoli and vegan cheese soup.

Ahead of time, I cook potatoes and carrots; add nutritional yeast, Cavender’s Greek Seasoning and Tony Chachere’s Seasoning blend together and freeze.   This is said to be vegan cheese like nacho cheese for dipping but it didn’t pass my family’s taste test as such.  What it does do is make a great cheesed up soup or cheesed up vegan dish.  So I freeze this in 1 quart freezer bags.  I remove frozen and microwave until defrosted, add to the Vitamix.  Then I add a head of either broccoli or cauliflower or ½ of each to my corning ware dish with 2 T of water and cook for 4 minutes on high in the microwave.  I add it to the Vitamix.  Now, I set the Vitamix setting to Soup and it sets the timer for the correct time.  About 6 minutes later, I have perfectly blended and soup to temperature for kids or adults to eat that is vegan, healthy, vegetarian and did I save full of flavor?  We eat this for dinner in the Fall, Winter and Spring at least once or twice a week.  We take 2-3 months off in the summer and increase our use of the Vitamix by making smoothies that are cool and refreshing instead of the soup.

 

They tout that it cleans easily by filling with ½ warm water and a drop of dish soap.  Just like the other things mentioned, it too works as stated.  You have to appreciate a company that supports their product, makes something to air nutritional wellbeing and is accurate in their offer and promise to their customers.  Actually, would we as a customer expect anything more.  I couldn’t be more pleased.

Again, Vitamix as a company – has recipes listed on their website.  How many – roughly 300.  What an incredible resource, warranty, story and appliance.  I am a more than happy owner as this appliance has become and integral part of our diet and an aid to our nutritional wellbeing.  Please note that I do not have an affiliate relationship with Vitamix but will seek to have one in the coming months as I am willing to promote this product because I believe in it and have used it with exceptional satisfaction.

Griesdorf Salad

So, you have heard of the Waldorf Salad, this is my Kale version of the likeness of this salad.  And if you don’t like kale now, just wait, soon you will.

1 bunch of kale, cleaned and chopped

1 cup of shredded carrots

½ cup of pepitas (green pumpkin seeds – I prefer them roasted and salted)

½ cup of chopped walnuts

1 apple (pealed or not diced in medium size pieces)

1 cup of grapes

Dressing:  ½ cup of Vegenaise and ½ cup of your favorite balsamic vinegar dressing, flavored balsamic or plain balsamic.  Whip the dressing ingredients together, stir into the above salad ingredients and store overnight as the salad is better the next day when it melds thoroughly.

Apple Crisp

1-1/2 cups of oatmeal

½ cup of almond flour

¾ cup of coconut palm sugar

½ cup of smart balance

4 cups of pealed, cored and sliced apples

¾ teaspoon of nutmeg

¾ teaspoon of cinnamon

Optional – ½ cup of finely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Use smart balance to grease a 9” X 9” pan

Mix the dry ingredients together until it becomes crumbly

Spread the apples into the bottom of the greased pan

Add the crumbles over the apples and spread evenly

Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden brown and the apples are cooked tender and there is a juice and syrup that is the cinnamon and the apples cooked down, approximately 45 – 60 minutes.

This recipe is vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, and low in sugar as it is much less sweet than that which is made with cane sugar.  Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than regular cane sugar.

Vegetable Bake

This recipe is not to be under-estimated.  I can serve this each week with a different mixture and it seems like a different dish, because it is.  

5 medium Red potatoes cut into bite size pieces

½ head of cabbage

4 medium carrots cut into bite size pieces

4 medium size stalks of celery cut into bite size pieces

1 large sweet onion cut into bite size pieces

1 Cup Peas – black-eyed, butter or cream

2 Tablespoons of Smart Balance

Season with Salt, Pepper, Cavender’s Greek Seasoning

Bake at 350 degrees in a pan sprayed with olive oil for 1 hour, until potatoes are tender.

Makes 6 Servings

 

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving  
Calories 220
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5.6g 7%
Saturated Fat 2.3g 11%
Cholesterol 8mg 3%
Sodium 102mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 39.6g 14%
Dietary Fiber 6.2g 22%
Total Sugars 7.7g  
Protein 5.1g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 1%
Calcium 75mg 6%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 1119mg 24%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Recipe analyzed by Verywell