Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Avocado Pasta

It feels good to get the creative juices flowing again in my kitchen! In this experiment, I'd have to credit the lime juice with being the particular flavor flowing in this tasty almost-vegan dish.  On a whim one day I decided to figure out how to make avocados into a pasta sauce.  With only minimal instruction from the internet, I came up with this! I hope you guys like it! :)

Avocado Pasta

Simmering veggies!
1) I started by boiling a pot of water.  Once the water is boiling, I added in a box of whole wheat rotini-style pasta.  While the pasta was cooking, I prepared the veggies and the sauce.  After the pasta reached al dente (about 10-12 minutes), I strained the pasta and mixed it with the veggies and sauce.  But we will get to that in a moment!

2) To prepare the veggies, I started by sauteing sliced mushrooms in butter in a fairly deep skillet.  As they started  to brown, I added paprika and some olive oil. When they started to begin looking cooked, I added in a few cups of frozen peas and some lime juice.  As the veggies cooked, I added in some more olive oil and stirred the skillet to get everything coated and cooking evenly. After several minutes, I added in about 1/4 cup of pico de gallo and seasoned with chili powder and cumin.  I stirred everything one last time before covering the skillet and reducing the heat to low.  I left this to simmer while the pasta finished cooking.

Preparing the pasta sauce.
All hail the Magic Bullet!
 3) While stuff was boiling and simmering, I prepared the avocado pasta sauce.  I peeled and coarsely chopped two garlic cloves.  I placed the pieces in my handy-dandy Magic Bullet (I used the bigger cup with the four-prong, raised blade) along with a few tablespoons each of olive oil and lime juice.  I cut open an avocado and scooped the flesh into the blender cup.  I also happened to have an extra 1/2 of an avocado lying around, so I scooped the flesh of that one into the blender cup as well.  I added a little salt before blending.  I blended for about 30 seconds and saw that the sauce was a little too thick, so I added in some milk to thin it out.  
Veggies and pasta before adding sauce.
Probably shouldn't have used that extra 1/2 of an avocado!  You don't want the sauce to be watery, but you also don't want it so thick that it won't adequately cover your pasta and veggies.  Play around with the consistency until you like it! :p

4) After the pasta, veggies, and sauce were all ready, I mixed them all together in the pasta pot.  I ended up adding more chili powder and cumin as well as some jalapeno seasoned salt to the pasta before serving. I served it with shredded cheddar/monterey jack/colby cheese blend.  

Veggies and pasta covered in avocado sauce.

This pasta was great! It was vegetarian friendly and almost vegan friendly other than the butter for the mushrooms and the milk for the sauce. (Which could easily be modified if you so desired.) It also reheated very well the next day! The best part was that this dish got an Airicca's Yummy Rating of 7 despite the fact that she doesn't like peas.  She said with other veggies she would have given it an 8! (For those of you who don't know, Airicca is one of my best friends and my roommate...she's also pretty picky and quite the health-nut.  Getting a high rating from her is pretty impressive! :p Did I mention this is a 10pt scale? Well it is, and 10 is the high!)

Yummy avocado pasta with cheese on top!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Magic Bullet Milkshakes

So I decided I needed to post something since it has been so long, but I've been busy with school so I haven't really done much out of the ordinary lately.  However, I don't know that I've ever blogged about my love for my Magic Bullet, so here we go!
The Ultimate in Milkshake Making Technology!

This is probably one of my all-time favorite kitchen appliances (right next to my immersion blender and my stand mixer).  This single-serving blender is great for making shakes and sauces because it cleans up quickly and isn't very bulky.  I often make healthy shakes for breakfast or a snack using this awesome device.

If you have one of these, keep reading to see some of my basic recipes for tasty shakes.  If you don't own one, drop what you are doing, and go get one! (Or be sure to ask for one for Christmas this year!)

I like to make my milkshakes with four basic ingredients: a banana, milk, frozen berries, and honey.  These four ingredients give you the sweetness and the proper consistency every time.  Using the honey and berries keeps you from needing to add sugar, which is great since sugar is something we should all be cutting back on if possible.  I start with the standard size handled cup and the raised, four-pronged blade.  I typically add the banana first (in two pieces to fit in nicely), then add my frozen fruit (enough to fill the cup about halfway if the banana is already in), top with milk up to just below the lid-line, and squeeze in honey (probably a few teaspoons...I never really measure this).  You can always add more honey if it doesn't seem sweet enough!  I blend for about 20-30 seconds...maybe a little more, but not usually more than 2 minutes is needed to get everything blended.
So many variations, so little time!

And there you have it! A yummy, healthy, on-the-go breakfast or snack!

I've also played around with lots of variations on this basic recipe.  I often add a teaspoon of cocoa powder and a tablespoon or so of coconut flakes.  You can also add various extracts such as vanilla, cherry, coconut, or almond.  From time to time, I even add in pecans or almonds (if you do this, be sure to blend it a little longer, and be prepared for a crunchy consistency!).  I'm a big fan of adding nuts, but my husband hates the little pieces, so I don't do that when I'm making a Matt-shake.  Once I even did milk, banana, and a packet of hot chocolate mix.  It was yummy, but probably not as good for you, haha!  In terms of frozen fruit, I tend to use either blueberries or strawberries.  I've also used berry blends with raspberries and blackberries.  I haven't tried using tropical blends (i.e. those with mango, pineapple, honey dew, etc.), but I would imagine those would be just as tasty!

If you are into protein powder, this is probably a way to get that in more pleasantly.  I could also see adding or substituting in yogurt if you are concerned about your gut fauna.  Many people also add things like flaxseed and wheatgerm for health reasons, but I can't say I've done that myself.  I have added in peanut butter when I needed a protein boost. I've also added in Nutella on days I felt like being bad! ;)

The Magic Bullet has a ton of other great uses, but for now, I hope this will get you started in learning to love this device that can only be described as wonderfully magical!  If you have any super awesome milkshakes you already make in your Magic Bullet that differ from what you read above, shoot me a comment or two! I'd love to hear new ideas!  Until next time, happy blending! :)

Okay, maybe not all the boys, but at least it brings my husband to the kitchen! ;)