Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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Gorgonzola Veggie Dip

IMG_8873I like Gorgonzola cheese – and found this dip recipe in a Health Magazine.  I read the ingredients and thought to myself that I should really try making a dip like this one.  It is delicious with fresh bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, celery or carrot sticks.  The beauty is: only 130 calories per 1/4 cup serving.  You could easily use fresh herbs to this dip instead of dried.  This dip is a winner in my book.

Gorgonzola Veggie Dip

Yields 8 (1/4 cup servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 oz) container Philadelphia reduced fat garden vegetable cream cheese
  • 1 cup low fat sour cream
  • 4 oz crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dry dill weed
  • 1 tsp freeze dried chives

Instructions:

Microwave the cream cheese for about 30 seconds on high (be sure to remove the lid and foil seal first).  Combine all the ingredients together and stir with a rubber spatula until it is combined.

Serve 1/4 cup of Gorgonzola Veggie Dip with fresh veggies for dipping.

Approximately 130 calories per serving of dip.

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Avocado-Mango Salsa Stack

Becky's Avocado Mango Salsa StackMy husband and I celebrated our 19th Anniversary in March and we went to eat at Peohe’s in San Diego.  I bought their appetizer stack, which had three layers of goodness.  The bottom layer had diced avocado, then a layer of Mango Salsa and the top layer had seasoned crab meat (Pictured below).  They had a lovely sauce drizzled around it and served them with toasted cheese toasts.  It was a meal I ate with my eyes first.  Their presentation was amazing!

I didn’t want to go quite as elaborate on the quick snack I made before I had to head out to my son’s baseball game, but I did want to make mango salsa.  I pulled out my Weber’s Big Book of Grilling and found a mango salsa recipe that I used as a guide for creating it.  The ingredients were simple: diced fresh mango, minced red onion, minced jalapeno pepper, mint, lime juice and salt. Easy enough.  After I made it, I remembered that I had fresh avocados, so I thought I would make a mini stacks and serve them with tortilla chips.  I used a simple biscuit cutter to make the forms.  Using a whole avocado per form, and slightly pressing the chopped avocado down a little, but not squishing it into a paste, just enough to have them hold together, and added a squeeze of lime juice.  Then I slid the biscuit cutter up the stack of avocado and put in my layer of mango salsa, then sliding the biscuit cutter off carefully leaving a mini tower in tact.  Two of my children loved it – the oldest preferred to eat just avocado.  I showed the picture to a friend at the baseball game and she said (in a most loving way possible): “You suck!” Apparently the only thing she had eaten that day was a bean burrito!  Sorry Erin! 🙂

Mango Salsa:

3 mangoes, peeled and diced

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds and white ribs removed and minced

1 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped (or cilantro would be fine here)

juice of one lime

pinch of kosher salt

Preparation:

Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir. You could easily change this recipe up by adding something like red bell peppers for color.

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Pictured below:  Peohe’s Avocado, Mango, Crab stack

Peohe’s Avocado, Mango, Crab Appetizer

 


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Bonjour

Well, what does a mom do when her (she shall remain unnamed) daughter comes home and says she has to make a 4 Course (French) Meal for a project in her French Class — AND that it is due on Friday… and yes, today is Wednesday and she informed me on Tuesday night….  Now, my daughter has the distinct advantage that mother owns a Julia Child Cookbook and can pull off pranks like this without too much fainting.. but really.. a four course meal?  Yes, of course we did it.. well almost.. we didn’t have time to make the dessert but that will be tomorrow.  I think we did enough for today. Because it was my daughter’s project, she did a lot of the work, but I assisted her.. we are dealing with HOT ovens and burners and sharp knives (new ones at that) –

For the appetizer we made a blue cheese ball with slices of French Baguette. My daughter arranged the bread and cheese ball very nicely I thought!

Well the name of it.. I won’t begin to try to pronounce.. that will be my daughter’s job.  But let me say this: I will be making this appetizer for the next party.  It is easy to make and is very good (if you like blue cheese you will LOVE it!) My son loved it too.  He is 8, but my most adventurous eater. I halved the recipe, because it was just for our family.

Amuse-Gueule Au Roquefort

adapted from Julia Child “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” pg 196 Serves 12 appetizer servings

For the cheese ball:

  • 4 oz blue cheese, crumbled (Roquefort if you can find it)
  • 3 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped chives
  • 2 tsp finely minced celery
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce

Coating:

  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp very finely minced parsley

Instructions:

Combine the blue cheese, softened butter.  Add chives, celery, cayenne pepper, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.  Stir until well combined.  In a separate bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and minced parsley.  Roll the cheese ball in the bread crumb mixture until it is well coated.  Refrigerate until serving.  Serve with slices of French baguette or crackers.

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Guacamole

There is nothing like freshly made guacamole.  I love to have chips with my guacamole, not guacamole with my chips!  Two of my three children also love the stuff.  The other likes to eat the avocado just by itself.  Also a good treat, but takes less effort.  The key to great guacamole is starting with fantastic avocados.  I happen to be fortunate to live in Southern California, where it is easy to find great avocados, but even then, you can find some that are less fantastic.  I highly recommend Haas Avocados.  They are consistently good.  They are large and buttery.  To pick a good avocado you want one that is still firm, but not hard.  If you press on the skin it should give a little (not a lot)  If it is soft and mushy the flavor is also less great in my opinion, but don’t worry if you can only find ones that are hard as baseballs, you can still buy them.  Take them home and put them in a paper bag with a ripe banana and in a day or two you will have a perfect avocado too.  You don’t need to buy any seasoning packets – use all fresh ingredients and you will have the best results.

A tip – to remove the seed can be a tricky process and sometimes dangerous – I have cut myself several times trying to remove that sucker!  Cut the avocado in half starting at the top and cutting around the bottom to other side and to the top again. Twist the two halves apart.  The flesh should be green – it may have some brown spots, but typically don’t take away from the taste, I cut them out because I don’t want brown chunks in my guacamole.  Place the half that still has the seed in it on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to tap the blade into the seed.  Give the knife a rotating twist and the seed should loosen and come off (on your sharp knife). To remove the flesh of the avocado from the skin simply run a large spoon along the edge and scoop it out into a bowl.

Becky’s Homemade Guacamole

Serves 6 hungry dippers

  • 3 large ripe Haas avocados,
  • 1 Roma Tomato, diced small
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, white ribs removed and seeds removed, diced finely (wear gloves to protect your hands)
  • 2 Tbsp minced red onion
  • 1/2 – 1 lime, juiced (depending on size)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro if you have it on hand and like it

Preparation:

Use a fork to mash the avocado flesh in a bowl.  Add the chopped onion, tomato, garlic, jalapeno pepper and stir into the avocado.  Add lime juice and cilantro if desired.  Season with salt and pepper, stir and taste.  Add more seasoning or lime if needed.  Chill and serve with tortilla chips, or serve with tacos or any other Mexican dish.

Some say that if you place the avocado seed in the guacamole while it is in the fridge that it will not turn brown, but I have found that if you cover it with plastic wrap and lay the plastic wrap on the guacamole so there is little air around the dip that it will stay the vibrant green that you want in a good guacamole.

Enjoy!

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Cheesy Sausage Dip

This is one of my favorite dips.  I found the recipe in a Schwan’s Catalog.  Although, I don’t use Schwan’s products in this, it turns out great!  This dip is particularly good with slices of a fresh crusty baguette.

Cheesy Sausage Dip-adapted from Schwan’s

Serves 10 appetizer portions

Ingredients:

  • 1 pckg. Sweet Italian Sausage
  • 4 oz can green chilies, chopped, drained
  • 1 cup chopped red peppers (or the roasted ones from a jar are also terrific in this)
  • 8 oz softened cream cheese
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp. Creole Seasoning (Konriko Brand is great- see under Products Category)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions or chives
  • To DIP:  1-2 loaves of french baguette or tortilla chips

Directions: Preheat oven to 400F.  Saute and crumble the Italian Sausage until cooked and no longer pink.  Add chilies and bell peppers, cooking 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients, except green onions (and bread of course).  Bake 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions or chives and serve with sliced bread or tortilla chips.

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