Guacamole

I’m a big believer that there is a time and place for shortcuts in kitchen.

Sticking to one-pot meals? Don’t blame you. Using the “spin and tuck” method for closing a bread bag? I’m no stranger to it. Pre-washed lettuce in a bag? Go crazy.

Buying store-bought guacamole? I don’t think so.

Guacamole is one of those delicious dips that takes next to no time to prepare and requires just a few standard ingredients. Full of healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber and vitamins, homemade guacamole is actually an incredibly healthy choice, provided you keep the serving size in check and choose vegetables like carrots, celery or jicama over tortilla chips (and, let’s be honest, margaritas). Using only fresh ingredients, you can easily control the flavor by adding jalapeño or serrano peppers for heat, extra lime juice or zest for brightness or more garlic for extra bite.

In my mind, there’s no point in buying premade guacamole. Sure, it may save you a bit of time, but too often it misses the mark – too bland, too spicy, the wrong texture. I have discovered a few brands – like Wholly Guacamole – that can work in a pinch, but homemade guacamole is so easy and fun to make that I never bother with store-bought when I can help it.

If you’re new to making guacamole, here are a few tips that may help. Peeling and dicing an avocado can be tricky at first, but a friend turned me on to an easy trick that makes handling avocados a snap. Cut the avocado lengthwise, which will produce two long avocado halves connected by the seed. Take both halves and twist in opposite directions until they split into two. Remove the seed, and use a small paring knife to cut a cross-hatch pattern into the flesh. Use a spoon to scoop out the avocado into a bowl. It’s also important to point out that red onions work best in guacamole, not yellow or white. My personal rule of thumb? Red onions are best when using raw, while yellow onions are the most common variety for cooking.

If you’re like me and love show-stopping dishes, I highly recommend purchasing a molcajete, which is the traditional Mexican version of a mortar and pestle. The molcajete is a three-legged round stone bowl that is used to crush and grind spices, as well as prepare salsas and guacamole. Molcajetes become naturally seasoned over time, similar to cast iron skillets, which gives guacamole made in a molcajete a unique flavor and texture. I purchased mine from Sur La Table and paid a bit extra for its pig face, but plain molcajetes can be also be found from other retailers for less money.

This is a great basic guacamole recipe that can be easily tweaked to meet your own tastes. Sometimes I will add a few extra ingredients, like jalapeños or cilantro, but this is my tried and true recipe I rely on most often. Don’t forget to taste and season as you go!

Guacamole

Ingredients
4 Haas avocados, seeded and diced
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
½ of a large red onion, diced
5 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
Generous sprinkle sea salt, to taste
1.5 limes, juiced (or to taste)

Directions
In a large bowl or molcajete, mash avocado to desired consistency. Add in diced tomato, diced red onion, minced garlic, sea salt and lime juice. Stir to combine, and continue to mash if smoother consistency is desired. Season with additional salt and lime juice to taste. Serves 4-6.

Creamy Garlic Pasta

I really wanted to share with you a recipe that announced springtime had arrived. Honestly, I did.

But when temps dip well below zero and your dedicated husband heads out at all hours of the day and night to check his bred heifers and comes back feeling like a frozen popsicle, you kind of get the feeling that a great kale salad – no matter how delicious you make it – isn’t going to cut it.

Let’s face it, folks: It’s March in South Dakota. The weather could start to warm up— or we could experience a nasty blizzard that extends winter until May. Summertime food is just going to have to sit on the backburner for another month. I’m feeling a call to arm my fellow foodies and farm wives with one last comfort food recipe that will sustain them until warm weather arrives.

Luckily, I have just the right recipe for this sort of situation. Creamy garlic pasta is a favorite cold-weather meal at the Cwach farm for several reasons. First and foremost, everything can be made in one pot. No racing around to find a colander when the pasta is suddenly al dente, no awkwardly cramming odd-sized mixing bowls into the dishwasher. Not only does the method of cooking the pasta in the chicken stock reduce unnecessary dishes, but it also enhances its flavor. Does it get any better than that?

This dish is also chock-full of rich, robust garlic flavor. We’re slightly obsessed with fresh garlic at our house– so much so that Dan’s number one rule in the kitchen is to double (sometimes even triple) the garlic in any given recipe. We’ve amped up the amount of garlic in this recipe to the point where romance is mutually declared off the table for at least 24 hours – but at the same time, there’s no harshness, bitterness or bite to the pasta.

This recipe is also easy to adapt for the carnivores or vegetarians in your life. Serve it with grilled seasoned chicken or sautéed shrimp for the meat lovers, or substitute chicken stock for vegetable stock to make it vegetarian-friendly. Prep everything ahead of time and you’ve got a one-pot signature dish that can be made in 15 minutes or less.

This is an eye-catching, easy pasta that is best enjoyed with a glass of white wine in the company of others. Add a garnish of chopped fresh parsley and shaved or grated Parmesan cheese, and serve alongside a green salad and crusty bread. Serves two.

Creamy Garlic Pasta
Ingredients

Olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 c. chicken stock
1/2 lb. spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 c. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

Directions

In a pot, bring the olive oil to medium-low heat. Add the garlic and stir, allowing it to cook for 1-2 minutes. Mix in the butter until melted. Add the salt, pepper and chicken stock. Raise the heat to high and let it come to a boil.

Once it is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook for as long as the box’s directions indicate. Reduce the stove to medium heat and mix in the parmesan until completely melted. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream and parsley. Garnish with parsley and additional Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Source:Modified slightly from http://thecheesepusher.tumblr.com/post/2719857351/creamy-garlic-pasta