Guacamole, one of the most beloved Mexican specialties and a common dish in the United States, is probably the easiest treat you can whip up for yourself this Cinco de Mayo. It is easy to find a pre-packaged guacamole in your local grocery store but it’s easily made from scratch by mixing avocado mixed with lemon or lime juice and other seasonings. It can be used as a dip, sauce, topping or a side dish. Once you make fresh guacamole yourself, you will never go back to that processed guacamole laden with chemical preservatives – I PROMISE!
The star of guacamole is the avocado. You want to make sure that you use ripe avocados when making guacamole so that they will mash easily. You want them to be a dark green color and firm to the touch but not too firm or hard. (To speed the ripening process, you can place them in a paper bag for a few days at room temperature.) In case you have never worked with avocados before, note that when you cut them open they discolor quickly. To prevent this, we use citrus juice. Avocados are rarely cooked (even on Iron Chef America they were left at room temperature!) because cooking avocados longer than a few minutes causes them to lose their flavor and they turn bitter.
I used to use lime juice in my guacamole but switched over to lemon juice and I am really glad that I did! Eva Longoria, my favorite “desperate housewife,” said the secret to the best guacamole is to use lemon juice. And not only is Eva Longoria a successful Mexican actress, but she also owns her own restaurant, Beso. She was right. The lemon juice REALLY makes a difference!
Here is my recipe for a chunky guacamole. I don’t add tomatoes because I don’t want other ingredients to outshine the flavor of the avocado or cilantro- my two fav Mexican ingredients!
Fairytale Chunky Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
1 handful of cilantro, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
Salt + pepper to taste
Using a fork, mash the avocados into big chunks. Mix in onion, jalepeno, cilantro, and garlic. Drizzle with the juice of one lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In my desire to “eat clean” this week in hopes of detoxifying my body from my edible holiday sins, I decided to make chicken tonight. (After all, what other choices are there really when you are “dieting,” besides chicken, turkey or plain fish?)
Now, I’ve never been a big fan of chicken and would pick a rare, juicy steak or a succulent piece of fresh seafood over the bland bird anyday. Chicken can easily become dry and tasteless to me. But there ARE recipes out there that give it a little zest and this is one of them!
This chicken with artichokes and melted lemons is a recipe from Bob Greene, Oprah’s trainer and diet guru. In my opinion, Greene has some of the tastiest recipes around to ensure one stays on a path to their “best life.” This one, taken from his “Best Life Diet,” is sure to awaken your senses and excite your taste buds without breaking your diet bank.
Warning: this dish is for LEMON LOVERS ONLY! It is a little tart – so if you are wary, go light on the lemon juice. If you are a lemon lover, as I am, then you HAVE to try this! Let me know what you think!
Chicken with Artichokes and Melted Lemons
“Simple and elegant, this is the kind of dish that’s perfect for entertaining.” ~ Bob Green
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 4 pieces boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3/4 cup chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth, such as Health Valley no-salt-added chicken broth or Pacific Foods low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons capers with juice
- One 14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is heated, swirl it to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken breasts and sear them until browned. Turn the chicken breasts and brown them on the other side. Remove the chicken to a plate and increase the heat to high. Deglaze the pan with the lemon juice, scraping up any browned bits into the sauce.
Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the lemon slices to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and place the chicken breasts on top of the lemon slice. Add the capers, cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and add the drained artichoke hearts. Cover and continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the breasts are cooked through.
Remove the chicken to a warm plate. Increase the temperature and reduce the sauce to a glaze. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Just a little salt will reduce the acidity of the lemon, capers, and artichoke hearts and balance the flavors. Serve the chicken with the artichoke hearts, capers, and melted lemon drizzled with the glaze.
Per serving, about: Calories, 186; Protein 29 g; Carbs 34 g; Dietary Fiber 6g; Total Fat 4g; Saturated Fat 1 g