Thai Peanut Zucchini Noodle Salad

Thai-Peanut-Zucchini-Noodle-Salad-024

It’s August! YESSS!! Cue all the back to school recipes! And pass the zucchini.

This fabulous month we delve into the world of zucchini, zucchini noodles, and everything that comes along with using zucchinis as this last month of summer begins.

Thai-Peanut-Zucchini-Noodle-Salad-022

Which also means that school is starting, and everybody I know needs quick and simple recipes to make the August days (and sometimes late nights) even easier!

I am soooo pumped about this week’s recipe for several reasons. One- the peanut dressing is DELICIOUS. Two- it features gochujang, my favorite spicy chili paste. Three- it’s gluten-free and low-carb, which of course means you can eat the entire bowl in one sitting.

Thai-Peanut-Zucchini-Noodle-Salad-016

And speaking of low-carb, for those of you who are super into the zucchini noodle trend, I found the BEST article about making zucchini noodles I’ve ever read here. Lisa is AMAZING and here are just a few of her tips that I utilized in this recipe:

Preferred tool: Mandoline I love my mandoline! To create the noodles for the Thai “pasta” salad below, I sliced a washed zucchini on the middle setting (I believe it was 2). The zucchini curled into pretty shapes this way! It also had a nice bite- the thinner pieces felt limp to me.

Cooking Method: Raw I liked this summery salad cold and raw. You can gently heat the noodles if you like (in a bowl in the microwave for a minute) but I vote on the raw method because the zucchini is able to maintain flavor and crunchiness really well that way.

Storage: In the fridge Lisa gives a great tip on her post about slicing the noodles ahead of time to make prep even easier, and storing them in the fridge in a covered container lined with a paper towel. Easy!

Thai-Peanut-Zucchini-Noodle-Salad-012

Thai Zucchini Noodle Salad with Peanut Cashew Dressing

This light salad is the epitome of summer ease, and takes advantage of all of the health benefits raw zucchini offers. Slice zucchini noodles and blend the peanut dressing ahead of time for even easier assembly. Fresh basil is the perfect topping for such a summery side dish. You can also find the full recipe on Birmingham magazine’s website:) 

Yield: 6 to 8 servings
For the Thai Peanut Cashew Salad Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves and stems
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons roasted whole cashews
  • 1/2 tsp gochujang

What You Will Do:

  1. Blend all ingredients in a blender on low speed until combined, then medium speed until a smooth puree forms.
  2. Place in fridge to cool.

For the Thai Zucchini Noodle Salad:

  • 10 ounces skin-on zucchini noodles
  • 5 ounces thick sliced cucumber ribbons
  • 2 ounces matchstick carrots
  • 3 tablespoons chopped roasted cashews, plus more for topping
  • Fresh basil, leaves and torn pieces, for topping
  • Chili flake, for topping

What You Will Do:

  1. Toss together zucchini noodles, cucumber ribbons, matchstick carrots, and cashews.
  2. Pour peanut cashew dressing onto vegetables about 1⁄3 cup at a time, and toss to desired consistency.
  3. Top with fresh basil, chili flake, and additional cashews if desired. Enjoy immediately!

 

 

 

 

 

Corn Recipes So Inspiring You Could Make them on Vacation

Corn Polenta
                                                 Gorgeous corn polenta by Half Baked Harvest!

Hola mi amigos!

Can you believe it’s the end of July already? To be honest, the summer of 2017 has moved at a weird pace for me. The minutes flash by on food shoot days- I look at the time, it’s 8 am, and then it’s 6 pm and the photos or videos are wrapped. Other freelance, “work-on-my-business” days seem to slowly eek along, as I email, call, and assault the internet (and my marketing list) to pursue working in and around food as much as I can. Those are the days I hear my middle school basketball coach in my head screaming “Hustle” until about 7 PM.

Also, “spider drills!” (Did anyone play basketball back in the day? You know what I’m talking about…)

And to be real, it’s hard work building a business around what you love. It’s worth it- but when it’s 1,000 degrees outside and you catch yourself fantasizing about a vacation away from your computer- this reason alone is why I can’t wait to turn off my email and actually read a book next week.

Since Jake and I have decided to take some much-needed time off, it’s an all out breakneck speed to the finish line as we wrap up food photos and projects, take Bigbsy to doggie camp and assemble some sort of cleanliness to our house. But y’all, the end is in sight! As in, eating sweet potato fries, lingering over coffee and building some sort of color on my pale legs will be my life goals for seven days.

This got me thinking- what are the easiest, most vacation-friendly corn recipes out there? What would one actually want to make when all I’ve done all day is sit in a pool with a cold Coca-cola? Well my friends, and those about to go on end-of-summer, pre back-to-school vacations, I have rounded up a great list for you.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy. Cheers to summertime unwinding:)

Corn salad, Grilled

Summertime Grilled Corn Salad by Simply Delicious This recipe screams refreshment and summertime and delicious to me! Plus I dig the way she boils the corn then grills it and tosses the kernels with feta cheese, tomatoes and basil. Plus all of these ingredients are likely available at your nearby grocery store. Yassss!

Corn Avocado Toast!

Summer Avocado Toast with Grilled Corn by She Likes Food Corn for breakfast!! Again, the beauty of charred, grilled corn paired with creamy avocado and crunchy toast. So fresh and so perfect for a lazy beach breakfast!

Corn Polenta with Honey BBQ chicken

Honey BBQ Chicken with Charred Corn Polenta by Half Baked Harvest: This polenta and chicken combo is making my mouth water just thinking about it. Oh. My. Geez. You can even use raw corn on top of the polenta, and use local smoked chicken in place of the skewers if you don’t feel like busting out the grill. Plus this photo?! The lighting is GORGEOUS!

Corn Chowder Vegan!

Vegan Corn Chowder by The Roasted Root: I know, I know soup in summertime? But yes! Sometimes after a long day on the beach all I want is cold, cold AC, a blanket and a pot of soup on the stove cooking away. Minimal prep, minimal work. Plus I am intrigued by the coconut milk corn combo!

Cornbread Honey Skillet

Honey Skillet Cornbread by Sally’s Baking Addiction Confession: Though I am a Southern girl, I like my cornbread sweet with chunks of fresh or creamed corn inside! This recipe hits on all the points. Plus, you can reuse this cornbread on salad the next day (as your breadcrumbs) or repurpose in open-faced cornbread sandwiches or eat for breakfast topped with fresh summer peaches and cream!

Corn Spicy Southern!

Spicy Southern Hot Corn by Peas & Crayons How perfect would this super-easy corn be for dipping with fresh salsa and tortilla chips, enjoyed with a glass of wine or iced tea, on your vacation getaway (or staycation) porch? I love it!

And last but not least- cue dessert!

Cornbread Muffins!

Lemon Blueberry Corn Muffins by Garlic and Zest Ok so technically these aren’t technically using corn- they use a corn bread mix- but I have a super soft place in my heart for Jiffy corn muffin mix because it’s delicious and I prefer it over homemade cornbread sometimes! So I think this recipe is genius, and could even be repurposed for breakfast in a parfait with yogurt- or topped onto fresh vanilla ice cream for an extra treat!

Corn Candy Ice Cream

Candy Corn Ice Cream by The Simple Sweet Life: This ice cream was too much fun (and too cute) not to include! Plus, it’s a no-churn recipe, so I have a feeling you could use the ice cream base and stir in roasted corn and blackberries as your garnish if you weren’t up for fall candy quite yet. Yumm!!

And just because this is fascinating

LOVE YOU GUYS!!

My Life-changing Leftovers Tip + Sweet Corn Pizza with Chorizo

July-2017-Bham-Mag-Corn-031

It’s July, and I KNOW you have some leftover produce hanging around in your fridge that you don’t know what to do with.

Maybe it’s not even the whole vegetables! Maybe it’s the garlic skins you rubbed off while you were prepping that stir fry on Monday, or the onion skins that were peeled away for that summer tomato pie on Thursday. What do you do with those leftovers?

You BRING THE **FUN** BACK TO THOSE VEGGIES, that’s what!  If it’s good enough for Justin Timberlake, then I think it’s great for us. This week I will share with you, my amazing readers, the #1 use-up-your-leftovers tip I EVER learned. As in, your life may not ever be the same and you will most likely feel about as accomplished as Alice Waters from here on out.

The broth bag!! I know, genius right? I first heard about this technique while listening to (hearts) Lynn Rosetto Casper on the Splendid Table, interviewing a brilliant 90-year old woman whose claim to life-long health revolved around bone broth. And her key to great bone broth was not letting all of your leftover veggie scraps go to waste, but instead stockpiling them in a freezer bag.

Food people are the BEST people.

July-2017-Bham-Mag-Corn-045

But I also know that you have more than your leftover veggie scraps lying around- you probably also have TWO more things I normally cram into my refrigerator:

Hummus– Hummus is not only an amazing snack, but there are some super cool things you can do with it outside of pita chip dipping’! Hummus chicken, pasta sauce, VEGAN QUESO *all the hearts**

Leftover pickle juice– There are a myriad of things you can do with leftover pickle juice. From adding it to potato salad and marinating meats to simply throwing your leftover veggies straight into the brine to make your own version of pickles, get creative! This list of the 15 Ways To Use Leftover Pickles by Bon Appetit is super-inspiring.

And of course, since this month’s focus is corn, so I’m pumped to share this awesome spicy corn and chorizo pizza we shot for Birmingham magazine. Pizza is a PERFECT vehicle for leftover summer produce!

So this weekend, let’s relax, make an easy bowl of hummus pasta, and throw whatever leftover veggies you have in pickle juice or the broth bag. Like 90-year-old Louise Hay says in her book Loving Yourself to Great Health, “Your body will love you for continuing to nourish it in this manner!”

July-2017-Bham-Mag-Corn-043

Sweet Corn Pizza with Monterey Jack and Chorizo

This corn pizza is perfect- and easy enough- for summertime!  Just grab some fresh summer corn, spicy chorizo, and melty cheese and you are ready to create a hearty appetizer or fun main course. Try substituting the chorizo for ground beef or turkey with taco seasoning if good quality chorizo is hard to come by. 

What You Will Need:

Yield: 1 pizza

  • 1 pound ground chorizo
  • 4 fresh ears sweet corn, shucked and kernels removed for cooking
  • 1/2 cup diced Vidalia onion
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon taco seasoning
  • 1 (13.9-ounce) can pizza crust
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 4 ounces Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
  • Hot sauce, for serving

What You Will Do

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium saute pan, cook chorizo over medium heat, breaking up large pieces with a spoon. Once cooked through, remove to plate.
  3. Add corn kernels, onion, cumin, and taco seasoning to pan. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until onion softens and corn is crisp tender, about five minutes.
  4. Remove corn mixture from heat.
  5. Cover a large surface with parchment paper. On it, roll out pizza dough into a large circle.
  6. Move dough to parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes.
  7. Remove crust from oven, then top with cooked chorizo, corn/onion mixture, cheese, and sliced jalapenos.
  8. Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted and crust is crispy, about 10 minutes more.
  9. Top with cilantro leaves and serve immediately with hot sauce.

How to use leftover PRODUCE + Summer Corn Succotash!

July-2017-Bham-Mag-Corn-069

Hey WOW it’s July and WOH there is some heat happening in Tennessee!

I liken going outside to feeling like your tonsils are being strangled by a hot sauna while someone sets a steamy, hot cast iron skillet above your face.

It’s weird; but growing up in the South, oddly familiar.

July-2017-Bham-Mag-Corn-084

And of course, I am doing all I can to stay inside near an air conditioner for the better three fourths of the day. I find that a run with our dog Bigsby in the morning also fulfills about 200% of my outdoor quotient for the week.

And because of my avoidance of anything outdoorsy until September, this also means that a lot of the recipes I’m cooking these days revolve around the things I have scrounged around from food shoots or indoor trips to the grocery store.

Like this delicious succotash Jake and I shot for Birmingham magazine this month. I am a complete sucker for corn and bacon, and this sweet corn version with bacon and sage is soooo good. As in, my mouth is watering thinking about it. Plus, you don’t even have to go outside to cook it! No grills! Just an indoor heat source and cast iron skillet to fry bacon is all you need.

And speaking of leftovers, this week’s video is ALL about what to do with leftover produce. As in, avocados, brown bananas, and sweet potatoes! PRAISE for getting creative and bringing FUN back to your leftoverzzzz (with a Z of course).

 

And as promised, the links I mentioned above for some creative leftover inspiration:

Frozen avocados: Just blend the avocado fruit with a bit of lemon in a food processor. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze! Can be thawed to use in salad dressing, guacamole, and smoothies! Just don’t eat by itself- it will be watery and not taste the same!

Banana recipes:

Cookies: Banana Chocolate Chip

Pancakes: Healthy Banana Pancakes

Muffins: Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

Banana/Quick breads: Coffee Cake Banana Bread and Strawberry Banana Bread 

Banana “Fro yo”: Peanut Butter Frozen Yogurt

Sweet Potatoes: Stuff them! Bake them whole, doused in olive oil with a bit of sea salt and wrapped in aluminum foil, in a 450 oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your tater. Let cool for 15 minutes; slice open, and fill with: turkey pepperoni, cheese, marinara sauce, basil; or black beans, ground turkey, cheddar cheese, and salsa. Combos are endless! Put back in oven on baking sheet to melt cheese if desired.

Sweet potato baked goods: Cinful Sweet Potato Cookies and Healthy Sweet Potato Breakfast Brownies

And this week’s corn recipe! Which you can also find here!

July-2017-Bham-Mag-Corn-085

Fresh Corn, Bacon and Sage Succotash

This easy breezy summer side is perfect for a hot day because you don’t have to go outside to cook ANYTHING and it’s just as tasty indoors with a glass of cold, cold iced tea. Serve with tortilla chips if you like:) 

What You Will Need

  • 3 slices center-cut bacon
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sweet Vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp plus ¼ tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 ears fresh corn, shucked and kernels removed for cooking
  • 1 15.25 ounce can lima beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 pint organic heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved

What You Will Do

  1. Cook three pieces bacon in a cast iron skillet on medium low heat until done and crispy; remove and drain on paper towels. Drain all but 1 tablespoon grease.
  2. Add olive oil, sweet onion, garlic, chili powder, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper; heat until onion is softened, three minutes.
  3. Add corn and lima beans and cook 6 to 11 minutes on medium low heat, depending on how crunchy you like your corn. It should be crisp-tender and cooked through.
  4. Allow corn mixture to cool. Chop bacon.
  5. Stir in chopped bacon, sage, basil, ¼ tsp salt, and cherry tomatoes to corn mixture. Taste; season with more salt and pepper if desired.
  6. Serve succotash immediately or store in the refrigerator.

 

Inspiring Avocado Recipes + How To Pick The Best Avocados

Avocado Sandwich

MAJOR avocado inspiration about to head your way! Watch out, because huge avocados with pits could potentially take out your eyeballs.

I KID!

No, instead of dodging actual avocados, it’s time for this month’s recipe round up of all of the fantastic and delicious avocado recipes I found on the internet. And yes, my mouth did water as I was looking these up and I was overcome with avocado-inspired, voracious hunger.

And speaking of cooking with avocados, how do you actually pick out the best avocados? Check out this week’s video to learn some great tips and tricks (and watch Bigsby feign exhaustion):

Here we go, drumroll, THESE PEOPLE ARE AVOCADO BRILLIANT AKA MY FAVE AVOCADO RECIPES THIS MONTH!

Avocado Hummus 2

Avocado Hummus by Cooking Classy Umm, tahini + avocado + chick peas = SUCCESS

avocado-bacon-eggs-1-final-2

Avocado Bacon and Eggs by Lil’ Luna Please someone make this for my breakfast tomorrow?

Avocado Chicken Salad

Honey Mustard Chicken, Avocado + Bacon Salad by Cafe Delights The dressing is also the marinade, GENIUS!

Avocado Sandwich

Cucumber and Avocado Sandwich by Two Peas & Their Pod Avocado + cucumber + sprouts + HERBED GOAT CHEESE OH MY GRACIOUS!

AVocado Chocolate Pudding

Paleo Chocolate Pudding by Wicked Spatula My husband can tell you that I can NOT get enough of avocado pudding and will eat every drop of it if you get close I promise I will stab you with. my spoon.

AVocado Truffles

Avocado Coconut Truffles with Dark Chocolate by Wild Blend Umm, this chick is INCREDIBLE and her food brain is so, so smart. Well done Wonder Woman, well done.

Avocado-Blueberry-Muffins-1

Blueberry Avocado Muffins by Gimme Some Oven Genius!! Using avocado as the oil in these muffins totally ups the blueberry muffin game into the baking stratosphere. Genius! Wait, how many times have I said genius?

Avocado-Salsa-Verde-web-3

Avocado Salsa Verde by Joyful Healthy Eats This is one of my FAVORITE ways to eat avocado. Plus a homemade salsa verde oh my GEEZ LOUISE!

tuna-poke

And finally, the Tuna Poke Bowl by bon appetit This is one of those recipes you see, your mouth waters, and you think “I’d be willing to spend $100 on tuna right now.” Then you look in your bank account and realize that yes, dreaming about avocados IS a positive, yet not so lucrative, past time. :)

Here’s to a weekend full of avocado-inspired joy and great food!

Much luv y’all– C

 

Fourth of July Fried Avocado Tacos with Red Jalapeno Slaw

Avocado Taco Resize

Fourth of July: one of the best food holidays of the year. A time where we get to celebrate not only the beauty of our country, but the beauty of the food it produces (#california). I consider it one of the best times of the year to celebrate our beloved avocado in all it’s forms.

Like, serving your friends guacamole with pimento and queso fresco to dip salty tortilla chips into. Or chocolate avocado cupcakes with chocolate peanut avocado “buttercream” for dessert. But this week’s recipe is, to me, the ultimate way to enjoy a fresh avocado: fried.

Overhead of fried avocado tacos with red cabbage slaw and sliced red jalapenos in metal tray with lime wedges, creamy sauce and beer on wooden surface.

And, I must give credit where credit is due- to our very own Mas Tacos in Nashville, who serves as the original inspiration for this recipe with their fried avocado tacos. Biting into the crispy, salty breading as your teeth sink into the soft, creamy avocado center is the height of deliciousness (well, next to their fried tilapia or chicken skillet tacos), as is really everything on the Mas Tacos menu.

But back to you, and me, and frying avocados. The primary method in cooking these avocado pieces well involves organization, moving quickly, and taking care to use ripe avocados.  Too soft, and your avocados will fall apart a bit as they fry. Too firm, and you don’t want to eat them. How do you ensure their ripeness? Use your thumb and forefinger to gently squeeze the top and bottom of the avocado at the stem. If it gives in to gentle pressure, it should be good to go. Squeezing the outer flesh of the fruit isn’t a good indicator- sometimes the inside is bruised and may give a false sense of ripeness.

AND for more tips on keeping your sliced avocado fruit fresh, check out this video!

In review of these video and blog post tips:

To keep your slices fresh:

  1. Dunk whole avocado halves in lemon water (a few tablespoons lemon juice stirred into a bowl of water).
  2. Use Fruit Fresh (a fruit preservative you can find in the canning section of grocery stores).
  3. Use a vacuum sealer!! I don’t personally own one of these but I think they are super awesome.

To fry these tacos with ease:

  1. Be organized. Assemble all of your ingredients ahead of time, and make sure your breading bowls are ready to go once the oil is heated.
  2. Move quickly. Watch the avocado slices as they fry; too long, and they will turn an unappealing dark, dark brown. Once they look golden and crisp, flip those slices!
  3. Choose ripe avocados. Take some extra time to make sure your avocados are just right to fry (See tips above)!

Alright my loves!! Here’s to a Fourth of July weekend full of yummy food, fabulous friends, and feeding the ones you love.

Overhead of fried avocado tacos with red cabbage slaw and sliced red jalapenos in metal tray with lime wedges and beer on wooden surface.

Fried Avocado Tacos with Red Jalapeno Slaw (You can also check out the full post for Birmingham magazine here)

These easy summer tacos are a perfect way to highlight avocado’s creamy richness. You can even fry the avocado pieces ahead of time and gently warm in the oven at about 250 degrees before serving guests. 

What You Will Need

  • 3 ripe avocados, sliced
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole grain, seeded bread crumbs, coarsely ground
  • 4 cups canola oil
  • 8 corn or flour tortillas, warmed
  • Red jalapeno slaw, for topping
  • Cilantro leaves, for topping

What You Will Do

  1. Pour oil into large Dutch oven. Line a large plate with paper towels. Heat oil on medium until oil temperature reaches 350 degrees.
  2. While the oil is heating, whisk egg and almond milk together and place in a shallow bowl.
  3. Whisk flour, cumin, chili powder, paprika and coarse kosher salt and place in shallow bowl.
  4. Pour breadcrumbs into another bowl.
  5. Dip avocado slices, working in batches of two to three slices at a time, first in the flour mixture, then egg/milk mixture, then bread crumbs.
  6. Carefully lower breaded slices into hot oil, and fry for about one minute, or until sides are nice and golden brown.
  7. Set to drain on paper towel lined plate and top with additional salt to taste. Serve in warmed corn tortillas topped with red jalapeno slaw.

Red Jalapeno Slaw

This slaw is as simple as slicing up some cabbage then whipping together a quick dressing. Save half of the dressing as dip for the tacos!

What You Will Need

  • ¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin together
  • ¼ teaspoon agave
  • 1 cup green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
  • 2 red jalapenos, sliced

What You Will Do

  1. Combine mayonnaise, lime juice, cumin, and agave.
  2. Toss half of dressing with cabbage and sliced jalapenos; use other half as a dip for tacos.

 

 

 

Luv Cooks Fourth of July FAVES!

Hi lovely Luv Cooks foodies!

In honor of this very special holiday weekend, where we get to celebrate the beauty and freedom of America, and American cuisine, I wanted to give you guys a special round-up of all of the recipes that are SURE to bring a smile to the ones you love this Fourth of July.

This post is all about my favorite summertime recipes that not only taste delicious, but are a great way to bring some fun and love to those outdoor BBQ’s.

Without further ado…

White BBQ Sauce

White BBQ Sauce This recipe, adapted from Southern Living’s version, is a huge crowd pleaser! Use it to top smoked chicken, burgers, even stir it into coleslaw!

Steak Pizza!

Grilled Greek Pizza with Steak Two words: GREEK DRESSING! This post features my favorite homemade Greek dressing of all time and the fabulous The Style Gathering– plus steak tips!

Grilled Tomato Salsa

Grilled Tomato Salsa: I adore salsa, and grilling the tomatoes in this recipe gives even more depth of flavor to already fantastic Southern tomatoes.

Strawberry Lemonade

Strawberry Honey Lemonade This lemonade is one of my favorites I’ve ever made, plus it uses honey and only a bit of sugar for sweetness. And, it involves summertime strawberries- deal!

Gluten Free Peach Cobbler Ice Cream

Gluten Free Peach Cobbler Ice Cream

This recipe is soooo tasty and even uses gluten-free pie crust in the ice cream. YES!

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Chocolate Peanut “Buttercream”

Chocolate-Avocado-Cupcakes-with-Peanuts-023 Glory hallelujah!! It’s summertime, and all I can think about is avocados. I want avocados on my tacos, in (last week’s) guacamole, in the tacos *spoiler alert* that will appear next week.

But I never thought I would want avocados in cupcakes. That is, until I came across Laura Lea Balanced and clicked on her “Desserts” tab. OH MY GEEZZ the creativity, beauty, and ingenuity of her healthy recipes are phenomenal! Strawberry shortcakes with coconut cashew cream, blueberry lime popsicles, Samoas macaroons, and… avocado cupcakes with chocolate orange buttercream. Brilliant.

I absolutely love Laura’s creativity and how she replaces the typical white sugar and butter found in most cupcakes (and most buttercream recipes) and utilizes avocado. These cupcakes have a fudge-chocolatey texture, but lack the saccharine sweetness of a typical chocolate cake. Plus they are full of nutrients, use spelt flour, and the non-dairy buttercream is so wildly addictive that I wanted to eat it on it’s own.

Chocolate-Avocado-Cupcakes-with-Peanuts-037 This week’s recipe is my own small twist on what Laura already developed; putting dark chocolate cocoa powder in the cupcake batter, substituting honey in the buttercream instead of maple syrup (since Jake and I never seem to have that on hand) and adding PBFit powdered peanut butter, plus chopped peanuts, to the top. So, ya’ll, these cupcakes are a MUST HAVE food adventure- especially if you love avocados.

Chocolate-Avocado-Cupcakes-with-Peanuts-028 AND more avocado food styling tips!

Chocolate-Avocado-Cupcakes-with-Peanuts-038 Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Chocolate Peanut “Buttercream” (Recipe adapted from Laura Lea Balanced Avocado Cupcakes with Chocolate Orange Buttercream)

This recipe requires a few specific ingredients (like fresh orange juice) but it’s worth the effort! I suggest making the icing ahead of time since it needs to sit for about two hours in the fridge. Plus, if you like orange zest, make sure and check out Laura’s original recipe! 

What You Will Need:

  • cups spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 ripe banana, roughly chopped
  • ½ large ripe avocado, mashed
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Peanut Avocado “Buttercream”
  • Salted roasted peanuts, chopped, for topping
  • Flaked sea salt, for topping

What You Will Do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and spray a muffin tin with olive oil cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a blender, combine egg, banana, avocado, coconut oil, orange juice, almond milk, and vanilla extract. Blend until smooth and no chunks of avocado remain (a minute or two).
  4. Add liquid ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and fold (or gently stir) to incorporate.
  5. Scoop about ¼ cup batter into each muffin hole and bake for about 15 minutes, or until a sharp knife inserted into them comes out with no crumbs attached.
  6. Let muffins cool completely in the pan, or after cooling for about 10 minutes, transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Once cool, ice with buttercream and top with chopped salted peanuts and flaked sea salt. Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Avocado “Buttercream”

What You Will Need:

  • 1 ½ ripe avocados, lightly mashed
  • 5 tablespoons honey
  • 5 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon PBFit (powdered peanut butter)

What You Will Do:

  1. In the bowl of a small food processor, blend avocado, honey, cocoa powder and PB fit until smooth.
  2. Spoon icing out and place into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. Attempt to resist temptation to eat this once it’s cold!

 

Avocado Food Styling Tips + Pimento and Queso Fresco Guacamole

May-2017-Avacados-118

Guacamole, inspired by pimento cheese! Food styling tips! Let’s do this!

Summer is a perfect time for guacamole. As I dip my salty, crispy tortilla chip into the creamy fabulousness that is fresh guac, I am transported to sunny beaches, tropical beverages, and (hopefully) a summer vacation.

This week’s recipe is also inspired by pimento cheese. That’s right, as a woman who grew up in the South, there was also NO WAY you could bypass the summer season without being offered either a pimento cheese sandwich with the crusts cut off at a baby and/or wedding shower; offered pimento cheese and Premium brand saltine crackers at the beach; or eaten right out of the jar with fresh tomatoes.

Jake and I shot this pimento and queso fresco guacamole for the May issue of Birmingham magazine, who we love. I was also super pumped to experiment with adding a Southern spin to a traditionally Mexican side dish. Plus, I’ll share with you food styling tips I’ve learned along the way, #praise!

Brown ceramic bowl of chunky guacamole with pimentos, queso fresco and sliced jalapenos on white marble surface with metal tray of tortilla chips in the background.

How to style (and use) beautiful avocados:

Avocados have a tendency to brown super easily. Whether you are styling your avocado for Instagram (or your family picnic), try rubbing the surface of the fruit (that’s right, FRUIT!) with fresh lime juice. You can also use a product called Fruit Fresh

To pick out a great avocado, don’t look at color alone. My favorite tip for finding a ripe, perfect avocado is NOT to squeeze the fruit in your hand. Simply press the top and bottom of the guacamole in between in your forefinger and thumb. If the fruit has a slight give to it, and no visible bruises or soft spots on the exterior, it’s ready to go!

Buy more than you need. Whether you are making guacamole at home or photographing avocados, it’s almost impossible to pick them perfectly every time. I usually buy double the amount of what I need, and if you don’t end up using the extra avocado that day, just dice it up and pop it in a plastic bag in the freezer! Frozen avocado is brilliant in puddings, smoothies, etc.

  1. Close-up of sliced jalepenos with queso freso in pimento guacamole with round yellow corn tortilla chip.Don’t slice your hand open! The best way to slice avocados involves two knives and these steps: A. Slice avocado in half using a very sharp chef’s knife. B. Gently twist avocado open. C. Strike pit with the blade of your chef’s knife (DONT USE A CERAMIC KNIFE HERE OR IT WILL SHATTER!) and, with the blade in the pit of the avocado, twist. Use a dry dish towel to remove the pit from the half. D. Use a paring knife to create even, clean slices in your pit-free halves. E. Use a large metal spoon to gently remove the avocado half from the fruit, scooping as close to the avocado flesh as possible. E. Place fruit on cutting board and fan those slices to your heart’s content! Drizzle with lime juice or Fruit Fresh to make it last and prevent browning.

And without further ado (and your newly acquired avocado SKILLZ) this week’s avocado recipe! Suggestions for serving: A refreshing tropical beverage and bright pink sunglasses in tow.

Overhead of brown ceramic bowl of chunky guacamole with pimentos, queso fresco and sliced jalapenos on white marble surface with metal tray of tortilla chips in the background.

Pimento and Queso Fresco Guacamole

This recipe is perfect for a chill summer day, and comes together easily and quickly if you have ripe avocados! The hit of roasted green chilis adds extra depth. To store your guacamole to prevent browning, simply press plastic wrap into the surface of the guacamole. Ole!

Serves 6

  • 3 ripe avocados, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon roasted green hatch chiles
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons pimento, drained
  • 3 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco, plus additional for topping
  • Sliced jalapenos, for topping
  • Corn tortilla chips, for serving
  1. Stir avocado, chiles, salt, lime juice, red onion, pimento, and queso fresco together. Serve with tortilla chips and sprinkle with sliced jalapenos and crumbled queso fresco.

ALSO check out more fun avocado facts at this article I wrote for B’ham mag here!

 

FAB Memorial Day Breakfast Ideas + Gratitude

Raspberry Cream Cheese Sweet Rolls
The Food Charlatan’s dreamy raspberry sweet rolls with coconut cream cheese frosting.

Praise praise hallelujah for America!

With all that is taking place in our 2017 world (largely of which I don’t know about because I purposely avoid watching the news), I’ve grown increasingly more grateful for the opportunity and privilege I have to live, and be, an American. Now that my husband and I own a home and seem to be thinking more and more about the  generations after us- it’s become much more important to show gratitude to the ones we love.

It especially inspires a gratitude for the military names I don’t know. The ones who served in our military, put their own needs aside, and gave their lives- so people like me could live in freedom.

So this week, in honor of our wonderful country, and our wonderful military members and their families, let’s take this weekend to love people with some of the most tasty, patriotic Memorial Day recipes out there. Drum roll pleeeasee…

healthy-berries-cream-fruit-smoothie-02

Berries and Cream Tye Dye Fruit Smoothie– This is one of the most beautiful layered smoothie recipes I’ve ever seen. Hot Beauty Health is a fab lifestyle blog and this smoothie does not disappoint! Layers of raspberry pureed with banana, yogurt + milk, and cranberry juice +blue berries + black berries pile high in a cold glass. I wish this was in my hand now. Except I couldn’t type. But I think I could manage with one hand if I got to drink this.

 

Blueberry-Oatmeal-Marla-Meridith-Photography.1

Blueberry-Coconut-Oatmeal-Marla-Meridith-Photography-IMG_9912

Blueberry-Coconut Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal– Helllooooo oatmeal! I am a huge steel cut oats fan, and this recipe is perfect for a long Memorial Day weekend. MarlaMeridith cooks the oatmeal in the oven ahead of time so the texture becomes even more fantastic as it sits in the fridge overnight. Plus, it’s covered with toasted pecans and extra blueberry sauce. You had me at blueberry sauce.

Sweet Rolls Take 2

Raspberry Sweet Rolls with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting There truly are no words for The Food Charlatan’s take on a classic sweet roll. She stuffs these beautiful, homemade dough babies with a little bit of sugar and raspberries, then whips up a homemade coconut cream cheese frosting to slather on them once they are hot out of the oven. I can’t imagine a sweeter Memorial Day treat to wake up to.

Ok and of course, a few Luv Cooks favorites:

Gluten Free Mixed Berry Cobbler-196

Gluten Free Mixed Berry CrumbleThis gluten-free take on a classic berry crumble would be PERFECT for a Memorial Day breakfast- or picnic! Top it with cold Greek yogurt and you have yourself a breakfast of champions.

The beautiful necklace in the center of the Chai is Jyori's- to see more like it, just visit the Sound of Hope online store.

Coconut Chai Latte Do your friends love chai tea? Then you have to try to make it homemade. This coconut chai tea latte is a fantastic way to drink chai- and continues to remind me of how much I love coconut milk.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt I am 100% for eating fro-yo for breakfast, and this incredibly easy recipe has only four ingredients. Count ’em- FOUR!

Plus, not to leave you hanging, the original instructional video!!

So grab your sparklers, tell someone you love ’em, and cook up a sweet breakfast this weekend. From my patriotic heart to yours- Luv Cooks!